Responsibilities a small church pastor

I thought I would share some of the “hidden” things that a pastor does since he is only seen by most on Sundays. I’m sure that we have all heard the jokes that pastors work 2 hours a week.   I have been senior pastor for almost 3 years now and I have noticed that a lot of times this job is not taken seriously by many.   I was also a youth pastor for 7 years before and that type of job definitely does not get a lot of respect.  As I type this, I think back to those times when, as a laymen, I thought those who were in ministry were simply taking it easy.  I thought this especially when I was working in the summer 7 days a week 12 hours a day.  So, here are some of the responsibilities that I have as senior pastor which should give a glimpse into what most of this job entails. 

  • Preach once or twice a week at church. 
  • Visit the sick and home-bound people of our church.
  • Counsel with different people as a community service and to those in our church.
  • Conduct funerals and minister to their families.
  • Lead couples in pre-marital counseling.
  • Perform weddings.
  • Seek out prospects.  In other words, invite others to receive Christ as their Savior and to attend our church. 
  • Meet with local board and staff.
  • Administrate various issues that pertain to church; organizational issues, clerical, labor, and etc.   
  • Seek out new ways to build relationships in our community. 
  • Pray for our community and church (people). 
  • Keep office hours. 
  • Remain available at all times of the day.
  • Take part in many different types of meetings, some are short and some are all day. 
  • Be ready for anything that comes up. 
  • Must find time to dream and cast vision to get to the next level. 
  • Must also find time to take part in community needs.   

So what?  None of those responsibilities are too strenuous.  Consider this, when the minister preaches many people might think that he is simply speaking off of the top of his head.  Likely, many pastors do sound this way and maybe me included.  Yet, the amount of preparation time is never known by many who hear the message.  Most messages can take 8-10 hours to get ready.  I may be either short or too long with 8-10 hours according to other pastors.  But this is what it takes me to get that sermon in my head for the following Sunday.  Now, the trick is not to always repeat yourself in your sermons which is very easy to do.  You have to repeat doctrine though, for example, Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven.  Although, you have to find different ways to present that truth.  This means that after 3 years of preaching 2-3 times a week, like I did when I first started as senior pastor, that I feel like I have nothing new to say to the same congregation.  And I am a story teller, so if I have writer’s block, this means that I am drained.  Oh, but this is when the work starts.  To be creative, relevant, and engaging, and some may say I’m not even close, I have to read, read, read, and read.  Big deal, right?  It is because I am an ENFP personality type (which means that I become scattered, have trouble focusing, and am easily distracted . . . Hey! Look there goes a bird!), also a Sanguine (which means that I am a talker looking for fun).  As a result, I have to beat myself into submission to read and do what I needs to be done.  I have to read to stay fresh, find good ideas, new illustrations.  A lot of times there might be a key sentence that inspires me about something else.  Further, I am a slow reader and have to beat my mind into submission weekly.  

As a small church pastor, I easily commit much time to visiting with the sick, homebound, and especially those who are prospects.  I actually enjoy this most times because I love impromptu conversations that usually take place during these meetings.  Likely, large church pastors, I do not mean large by Wesleyan standards but larger, do not spend much time in this area because they have grown in ways that demands that their time is put into other areas of ministry.  On the other hand, large churches may hire staff to do this, almost certainly rely upon small groups to fulfill this type of ministry.  Yet, the goal for a small church pastor is to maintain good caring relationships with church people while seeking to develop new relationships with other people so that you can earn the right to share Jesus Christ with them.  Plus, for those who are between churches, you have to cast vision while carrying on a relationship with them.  Relationships in a small church are crucial to keeping people and finding lost people.  Building relationships goes beyond a regular 40-45 hour work week.  

As a small church pastor most of the ministerial work tends to come home with me.  This can be an issue when you are tyring to be a husband and father.  This is where seminars come in with the goal to convince you to put down your work and spend time with your family.

Imagine maintaining all of these responsibilities while you try to keep an eye on church finances.  Most in the United States are shook up about their personal finances.  Here’s where you can add a lot more stress on.  Taking care of God’s house is not something that should be taken lightly.  And by the way, teachers (that’s me) are going to give an account to God about how we managed His resources.  A little frightening isn’t it?

 Hopefully, you can see that a lot of hours can get wrapped up into ministry for the small church pastor.  As I pointed out earlier, if you are in a sourmood, you do not have the luxury of showing up to work and being grouchy to everyone either.  You have to smile and suck it up.  Yes, pastors can be in bad moods too.  Well, at least this pastor can.  I never said that I was normal. : )  This means that as a small church pastor, I have to be ready at all times to give a comforting word to people who need to hear it.  If you receive encouragement and comfort regularly, don’t blow this off as that is no big deal, many people do not have anyone rooting for them.  Therefore, it is very important that we are able to do this. 

I may post more about this later.  At least this is a snapshot into what a small church pastor does.

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2 Comments

Filed under Leadership, Small Church, Vision

2 responses to “Responsibilities a small church pastor

  1. Yep. It’s a lot of work, and you’ve probably forgotten a few things.

    Conversely, pastors can forget how much work it takes to be a conscientious layperson, who should also pray, visit, invite, witness, attend meetings, and often also prepare some sort of lessons, or reports for the church or a church committee, in addition to the day job. Laypeople are often also heavily involved in music ministry, may clean the church, mow the grass, etc.

  2. Scott Uselman

    O yes, Dr. LaBar. You are right. I used to do these very things before I became paid staff. This is why I’m against Pastor’s Appreciation Month. I realize that in our district that we have Lay Appreciation Month, but it is not same. I appreciate all that our lay people do, because without the laymen we cannot do much. Thanks for pointing this out. My apologies to anyone that may have misunderstood what I was saying. My goal was to assure some, but not all, that my craft is legit. I also want to remind myself that I am actually doing something too, especially when there are not a lot of numerical increases. I wanted to point out that I am putting hours in too like everyone else. Thanks for your good point and I wish that I would have worked that into what I wrote.

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