MINISTRY OF ENCOURAGEMENT
As a vital part of CSR Ministries, Jim and Anne were called by God some eight years ago to serve as Ambassadors of Encouragement to pastors, ministers, church staff, and leadership throughout the body of Christ. Their mission is to reach out to God’s ministering servants and their families with love and support, in even the more trying times. Serving as Pastors to Pastors and their families is now a focal point of CSR Ministries.
In 2009, Jim and Anne joined in a ministry partnership with Pastor Care, a National Clergy Support Network, founded by Bert Moore, a Presbyterian minister, many years ago. The focus of PastorCare is ministering to clergy in crisis, providing emergency care, and serving as a referral source for those in need of continuing care. CSR’s Ministry of Encouragement works primarily on the preventive side of clergy support, helping ministers prevent the life-impacting problems that often come their way, such as burnout, depression, moral failure, forced termination, and a host of other challenges. We feel this coming together resulted in the strengthening of both ministries.
Our Mission and Goals
CSR Ministries seeks to glorify God and to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ by serving as a catalyst of renewal and spiritual unity and a facilitator of encouragement among pastors, ministers, and other leaders, through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Mission of CSR Ministries is to provide conferences, training experiences, resources, leadership development, one-on-one encouragement, and ministering to the Body of Christ, its leaders, and members.
Pastors today are faced with more work, more problems, and more stress than any other time in the history of the church. This is taking a frightening toll on the ministry, shown by the following statistics:
Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout or contention in their churches.
Four thousand new churches begin each year, but over seven thousand churches close.
Fifty percent of pastors' marriages end in divorce.
Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
Eighty percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years. Ninety percent of pastors said their seminary or Bible school training did only a fair to poor job preparing them for ministry.
Eighty-five percent of pastors said their greatest problem is they are sick and tired of dealing with problem people, such as disgruntled elders, deacons, worship leaders, worship teams, board members, and associate pastors. Ninety percent said the hardest thing about ministry is dealing with uncooperative people.
Seventy percent of pastors feel grossly underpaid.
Ninety percent said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be before they entered the ministry.
- Seventy percent felt God called them to pastoral ministry before their ministry began, but after three years of ministry, only fifty percent still felt called.
by Jim Bevis
Having called on over 600 pastors, and personally visiting with hundreds of pastors one-on-one, here are a few of the encounters as I remember them:
WRITING THEIR RESIGNATION
I called on one couple, both of them pastors, who were in the midst of writing their resignation from ministry. When I walked into the office, the wife was at the computer composing the resignation letter. I said, “I’m here to tell you that God has not lost your address.” She broke into tears and escorted me into her husband’s office. As I shared with them words of encouragement, the Lord sent peace to their hearts and restored joy to their countenance. The following Sunday we visited their church and presented them with a “Dinner for Two” at a local restaurant, compliments of our small group.
YOU ARE TOO LATE
I called on a pastor in a mainstream denomination church. When I walked in, he asked,”What do you want?” I said, “I’m here to encourage you.” He said, “You are too late.” He spent the next hour telling me about the death that prevails in the church he serves. Several weeks later, he visited our small group and the group also had a powerful time of prayer ministry with him. The group presented him with a “Dinner for Two.”
THE WHOLE MORNING
One pastor I called on was having some serious health problems. I had the opportunity to minister healing prayer to him. We spend the remainder of the morning together (three hours) and then had lunch together. There was a noticeable change in his countenance after the visit.
THE MORNING OF ENCOURAGEMENT
As a result of visiting with many ministers and pastors in Franklin County, Alabama, we planned a “Morning of Encouragement.” Twenty-eight pastors and ministers participated in this special morning of encouragement and sharing. Six retired pastors from the Shoals area shared with those present how they had “weathered the storms of ministry. “ Each of the retired pastors (a cumulative total of 235 years of ministry experience) laid hands on and prayed for the pastors who were present. Lunch was provided for all of those who participated at the A.W. Todd Center. Plans are to have “mornings of encouragement” in many towns and communities in North Alabama.
THE DISTRICT SUPERIENTENDENT
One morning, the Lord prompted me to go by and visit with the District Superintendent of the United Methodist Church in North Alabama. I simply went to tell him that all of the ministers under his charge had given him a good report. He was touched by the message of encouragement.
AFRICAN AMERICAN PASTOR
I have had the privilege of visiting with several African American pastors. I am finding that many African American pastors are bi-vocational and do not have the privilege of serving full time without other employment. One morning I visited with a precious man of God who is an elder in his church. He invited me to return and visit with the new pastor which I did. We prayed together. He invited me to church and my wife and I visited this congregation the following Sunday. We were received very warmly. This was an African American Church of Christ. We were the only white persons present which seemed to make no difference.
VISITED WITH THE WIVES
On two separate occasions, the pastors were not in the church office and I visited with the wives. I found them to be very receptive and very needy. After sharing a few of the challenges facing the churches and their husbands, I knew the Lord had sent me to visit with the wives rather than the husbands. I prayed for both of them.
CLEARING THE AIR
I visited with one pastor brother with whom I had had a slight altercation because the pastor was a “no show” on my radio program. I discovered that I had hidden this in my heart and actually taken up an offence against him. In the middle of our “visit of encouragement” I discovered that this was the man. We confessed our sins to each other and experienced the love of God as we laid it all down. This visit was as much encouragement to me as it was to him.
MY WORST DAY EVER
One pastor was somewhat reluctant to receive me although it was obvious that he was in his office. Upon greeting him I shared why I had come, to encourage him. He responded by saying, “This is the worst day I have ever had.” I said,”that’s why God has sent me here today.” We shared and prayed. We both left encouraged.
Retired Ministers Army of Encouragement
Consider the gift of our retired clergy who have served in ministry for many many years. Consider the possibility of unleashing this army of retired ministers as ambassadors of encouragement to strengthen, encourage, and come alongside our area pastors, congregations, and church staffs. Could the ministry and fruit of these latter years be even greater than the former? The vision is becoming a reality!
The Original Announcement From Our Archives:
CSR MINISTRIES ANNOUNCES
A MINISTRY OF ENCOURAGEMENT!
“For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging,
comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory.”
I Thessalonians 2:11 NIV
As some of you know, Anne and I have been in full-time ministry for over forty-three years. We have served as senior pastor, executive pastor, campus minister, Christian education director and executive director of two international ministries. In addition, we served for a number of years as Ambassadors-at-Large with Mercy Ships, a division of Youth With a Mission. The ministry He has graced us with has taken us to over thirty nations and to many, many churches.
As a result of our experience ministering across the body of Christ, we have seen over and over again the need for encouraging Christian pastors and leaders. We have tried to do that. Thousands of ministers are leaving the ministry each year primarily because of discouragement. We can most certainly identify with the discouragement, defeat and disillusionment. We believe that it is possible that the Lord is leading us into a full-time ministry of encouragement for the remainder of our ministry lives.
On Sunday, December 28, 2003, while traveling from Texas to Alabama, the Lord gave me, in an instant, a mind picture of a new ministry which I believe is a ministry for us. There was a mental picture of Anne and me traveling in an RV vehicle going from church to church across America encouraging pastors, church staff, and churches. It appeared that we would travel down the roads of America, stopping at every church, encouraging and praying for the pastor, staff, and church. We would, in turn, leave a small gift of appropriate reading materials for the pastor. On Sundays and Wednesdays we would stop and visit various churches, again blessing, encouraging, and praying for them.
We are presenting this “vision” before the Lord for His confirmation. If it is from Him, we would plan to begin in mid-2004. We would vacate our house and take to the road on His/our mission of encouragement.
We would appreciate you counsel, prayers and participation. CSR Ministries, P.O Box 1555, Florence Alabama 35631
We have weighed this vision before the Lord, in addition to submitting it to some trusted men of God who have been our mentors over the years. All of them have confirmed that the Ministry of Encouragement is from the Lord, and we are to take up this divine call. We began the Ministry of Encouragement in 2004, and we are absolutely certain that we heard from and obeyed the Lord.
If you need help as one of God’s Ministering Servants (Ministers, Pastors, Leaders, Spouses, or Church Staff), Jim and Anne are available to assist and speak with you confidentially and without cost.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with issues of burnout, please take time to read and/or share our downloadable PDF on Burnout by Joseph Mattera.