For 14 years, Pastor Resources (a publication of the JCA Company) has been serving those who serve the church. Though their bi-monthly offer-based print publication, the company desires to connect pastors with tools that enrich their ministries. The magazine has been and continues to be successful as it has evolved with the changing times, now providing popular apps where pastors can opt in for a variety of offers and freebies in one place. However, earlier this year, JCA Company President Dave Wike saw an unmet need that Pastor Resources and few additional content providers were offering.
While Pastor Resources was equipping church leaders with tangible products for their everyday jobs, they weren’t equipping them with spiritual and emotional tools to handle the demands placed on them daily. That’s when Wike decided it was time to relaunch the publication’s website, which remained relatively static until the fall of 2015 when Wike and his team unveiled a brand new site at PastorResources.com. He couldn’t be more excited about the potential available through what he hopes will become a regular destination for tired, world-weary pastors and their families in search of encouragement, inspiration and support. He recently sat down with us to discuss the vision behind the new website, the biggest challenges facing lay leaders today and the best ways to combat pastor burnout.
Why did you decide to roll out dynamic content at the new PastorResources.com?
Dave Wike: We sensed a need among pastors that wasn’t being addressed. There’s no shortage of pastor websites providing products and services for churches. There’s also several content sites helping pastors grow their numbers and run the business side of their ministries, but what about the pastor himself? Who’s helping him handle the unending expectations placed on him by members, growing staff and his own family?
What’s your vision behind the site?
Wike: As faithfully as folks check social media in the morning, we envision a day when every pastor knows he or she will feel more inspired each day by visiting PastorResources.com. Without letting the cat out of the bag, we have several ideas aimed at producing this outcome in the near future. So our goals won’t revolve around numbers, because in contrast to websites serving leaders and lay people alike, PastorResources.com won’t have millions of unique visitors. Rather, it will reach someone who influences those millions. If the pastor is healthy, think about how wide his influence then can become.
What type of content can readers find at the new PastorResources.com?
Wike: Our audience of pastors revealed their pain in a recent survey. We’re going to use these pain points to build supporting content that provides solutions. We want to take an honest approach to the issues pastors face. In other words, it may not always be the most agreed upon approach, but we believe it will be the most beneficial.
The new website also aims to be a resource for pastors’ wives. Why do you feel this is significant?
Wike: “Ain’t no one happy if mama ain’t happy.” It’s a fact! We will aim to confront some of the false ideas and expectations placed on preacher's spouses by the church, as well as educate wives to discover why her man might not seem to be the one she married a few years ago. In other words, we hope to create more empathy and understanding between the church, the pastor and his wife.
Why is it important for pastors to have a safe place where they can find emotional and personal support?
Wike: Back to those unrealistic expectations…It seems to me that Scripture regarding teachers and those in authority being held to a higher standard essentially has been taken to an extreme by requiring perfection from pastors. In my opinion, this only makes temptation all the more irresistible. With no one to run to (“I’m supposed to be perfect, so who can I talk to?”), the issues that lie at the root of sin never are addressed, and therefore are never allowed to heal. Beyond simply sin and temptation, pastors face significantly more stress than the average Joe: juggling every members’ infant baptism, wedding, funeral, hospital visit, counseling session, staff meeting, etc., not to forget writing life-changing sermons…What about his own family?
Yes, as the church grows, the pastor can begin to off-load some of these responsibilities; but based on the current pastor statistics, he already has burned out and left the ministry before getting to a place of delegation. If we can provide a safe place at PastorResources.com, hopefully, we can begin to reverse these alarming statistics.
In your experience working with pastors through the years, what causes them to burn out the fastest?
Wike: People pleasing. Whether it’s members or elders, the fear of man seems to bring most ministers to ruin. We all find ourselves in this trap, but the ramifications for the pastor lead to much greater problems on a much more consistent basis than the average Christian. Constantly having to pick sides or defend a stance for every decision would wear out anyone.
What are some practical ways that pastors and other church leaders can combat burnout?
Wike: I addressed several of these in an article I wrote for Relevant Magazine. "5 Lies that Lead to Burnout" discusses making time for yourself, watching out for people pleasing, avoiding isolation, as well as setting realistic expectations on time and outcomes.
As culture has changed and the way we do church has also evolved, what do you think is one of the biggest challenges facing pastors today?
Wike: It comes back to the idea of pastors having to take a stance that is usually divisive. For instance, on the homosexual topic, there’s typically not a group of members who sees a balance of love and resulting action. Rather, there’s typically two extremes with one side declaring, “Kick 'em out while making sure they know they’re on the way to hell!” and another side that says, “Let’s just love them where they are,” not recognizing the lifestyle leads to emotional pain and that the homosexual desires freedom from themselves. So while the pastor is trying to take Jesus’ approach, his local fellowship is splitting over the topic.
There’s also certainly a shift in four-walls ministry defining the church, instead of Christ defining it. While going to a place to fellowship with other believers is a must, that place is not the church. We are. Millennials especially will require truth in this area––more so than tradition––so pastors will have to be ready to understand their roles as leaders of local bodies of believers and what that means in the coming years.
Explore the new website at PastorResources.com.