The holiday season is often awkward for pastors. Most pastors truly love the people they work with, especially those who take on the responsibility of leading a small group as small group leaders are co-shepherds accomplishing important ministry. When the Christmas season rolls around, almost every small group will have a party. And, in many churches, the pastor or pastors will be invited to many of those parties.
If small group leaders aren’t careful, when a pastor turns down the invitation, the leader will be hurt or miffed. Because the small group leader doesn’t understand the pastor’s world, they take the “turn down” personally. Maybe this short list will help small group leaders understand why pastors can’t attend every small group’s party.
1. Your pastor needs and deserves the time to make holiday memories with their own children. If a pastor attends every party he is invited to, this is impossible.
2. Many pastors are emotionally drained during the holiday season as there is more counseling taking place than in other months. Due to the fact that those who have lost family members are dealing with grief and loss for the first time, those who are estranged from family or don’t have meaningful friendship relationships are finding themselves depressed, and many are struggling financially, the pastor’s counseling load is very heavy.
3. The pastor’s workload is heavier during the holiday season than any other. Advent brings with it additional teaching responsibilities, many churches are preparing for the next year’s budget planning, the community often calls on pastors to be involved in some way with programs that are taking place, and end of the year evaluations are completed during this season.
4. Pastors are involved in special church-wide events at church. Many churches do musical events that span multiple days. In most church settings the entire church staff is expected to be in attendance and working in some way.
5. Pastors must be involved in the preparation of, the promotion of and the speaking at special events such as Christmas Eve services. This adds an immense amount of work on the pastor as this is one of the most important annual events as many unbelievers will be in attendance.
After reading this list, I’m certain you can see why a pastor on your church’s team might turn down an invitation to your small group’s Christmas party. If you really want to bless them, take a small collection from your small group to give to one of your pastors. Give them a gift card to a restaurant that you think your pastor and their spouse will enjoy. On the card write, “Our group knows how hard you work during the holiday season. We would like for you to take your spouse out for a relaxing meal after this season has ended. Enjoy!”