Editor’s Note

by Rachel Davis

Ten years ago, in November 2008, we first launched Church Health Reader online. As I think about those first few months, one goal of our new publication was to provide clergy with the tools they needed to be healthier in body and spirit. Vocational ministry is not an average job. The typical stresses and complexities of work life are complicated and nuanced with pastors, priests, and any occupational congregational leader, and this impacts health also in complicated and nuanced ways.

Caring for a congregation is a profound calling, but the myriad expectations on clergy make caring for their own health deeply challenging. Finding time to care for their personal spiritual health, limited access to health care in some cases, and busy schedules too often put the basics of good nutrition and exercise at the bottom of the priority list—the part of the list that never gets accomplished. Constancy of people contact in the nature of ministry work, whether leadership planning, committee meetings, or pastoral care, ironically can make it hard to go deep into trusting, nourishing relationships that support the pastor’s health.

I am not a pastor, so I only know of these challenges anecdotally. This got me thinking: how can lay people like me shift our understanding of clergy health and our expectations of our leaders to care for our leaders’ bodies and spirits?

In this issue, we seek to give both congregations and their leaders’ inspiration and tools for how to be intentional about the life of our leaders. Coming back to a theme that was on our minds ten years ago, it’s fitting that the very center of this edition—physically—takes us back to our early goal of providing clergy with tools for health with four pages you can pull out and start using today, if you are a clergyperson, or share with a pastor, if you are a layperson.

I invite laypeople to explore this issue with empathy for your leaders. Wonder about ways your congregation could be more intentional in supporting their health. I invite clergy to read with eyes for encouragement, hope, and tools to care for yourself as you care for your congregation.

Blessings for whole-person health,
Rachel Davis

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