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How Churches Can Help Prevent Pastors' Suicides

4. Give your pastor a paid four-week sabbatical every five years.

This should be in addition to vacation time. The sabbatical can be used for rest, travel, study, book writing, school or whatever the pastor needs to be recharged. Frankly, I think any pastoral team member should get a sabbatical of some length every five years. The stakes are too high to burn out our leadership.

5. Provide counseling options for members other than the pastor.

I suggest two reasons for this. First, some pastors are terrible counselors. It is not a strength, and it might do more harm that good. Second, some counseling is more routine and can be handled by someone other than a pastor. Pre-engagement and financial counseling would fall into this category.

6. Make church wedding costs official church policy.

Weddings are awesome events that can become a burden to the pastor and his family. It is true, your wedding is only a Friday night rehearsal and Saturday event. But, you are not the only wedding on the pastor’s docket, and it can become an interference when five to 15 weekends a year are tied up with weddings. This is not even to mention some people think $50 is still a handsome reward for what amounts to more than five hours of time invested.

Create a church wedding policy applicable to everyone regardless of member or nonmember. This policy should include facility rental, custodial clean-up, sound tech and ministerial honorarium.

If you are a multistaff church, the policy should also clarify the minister can be any of the staff pastors. If premarriage counseling is required (and it should be), the honorarium should reflect the cumulative of counseling hours.

The honorarium should be for three counseling sessions; rehearsal and ceremony should be at least $500. This policy should be set by the church.

7. Allow your pastor two ministry weeks a year minimum to be used for revivals, teaching opportunities, mission trips and the like.

These kinds of ministry opportunities allow for positive feedback from a different audience and can be like cold water to parched lips.

8. Stop acting as if your pastor and his family will never do any wrong, and stop judging them if they do.

I can only imagine the number of pastoral marriage arguments that take place trying to fulfill the expectations of church members. What he should wear, where she should sit, how the kids should behave (perfectly, of course), should his wife lead VBS or play the piano, and on and on.

Pastors are not perfect and their families can be just as troubled as any other family in the church. If you want a perfect pastor’s family, call Ken and Barbie. Replace the kids with some Betty Spaghetti characters. Then, mold the entire family as you see fit.

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Marty Duren is a Christ follower, husband, father, writer, social media strategist and general provocateur living in Hermitage, TN, just east of Nashville.