How pastors steward their time
Big challenge for churches: Embrace the changing role of pastors
Pastors are pulled in many directions and expectations are as high as they have ever been. Given the many challenges people face in their families, work place and community, caring for members of our congregations and maintaining the ongoing duties of ministry can be daunting.
A big challenge before the church is understanding and embracing this changing role of the pastor. Some are suggesting that in this new day the role of the pastor needs to shift from doing the ministry to a stronger emphasis on equipping the saints for ministry.
… to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. -Ephesians 4:12-14
As true and admirable as this is, the other reality is that volunteerism is also on the decline in many congregations. This requires lay leaders to understand that sometimes, less is more, and a team and broader engagement of church members is an important sustainability concern for pastors.
Three areas of focus
Writer and consultant John Schol has suggested the following division of labor and time to help move pastors and churches in this direction. In this spirit, Schol has developed three main areas for pastors to focus their attention with the leading role as that of developing congregational leadership as a driver towards congregational and pastor well-being.
1. Drivers of the congregation’s health and vitality – 40% of a pastor’s time or 20 hours a week.
Pastors develop congregational leadership and work with the leaders to plan, organize and implement ministries that lead to more engagement by the congregational members and new people. Leading these activities is core to the health, vitality and sustainability of the congregation.The planning, organization and implementation is attentive to including new people.Tasks included in this area:
• Involving more members in worship
• Developing small groups for sustaining care for each other
• Promoting local community engagement for members
• Increasing generosity to the mission of the church
• Discipleship ministries
2. Leading and engaging in the ministries of the congregation – 40% of a pastor’s time or 20 hours a week.
These are the activities of a congregation.Pastors both lead and support lay leadership to carry out these activities.
• Designing worship, equipping worship leaders
• Sermon preparation
• Visitation of members/attendees
• Teaching ministry
• Attending congregational functions
• Pastoral counseling
3. Congregational administration – 20% of a pastor’s time or 10 hours a week. These are the ministries that under gird the operations of the congregation.
• Engaging in the stewardship ministry of the congregation
• Engaging in gift discernment for leadership roles in the congregation
• Attending administrative committees of the church
• Ensuring safe church policies
• Being the bridge between the congregation and broader church entities
Successful clergy are continually figuring out how to spend more time in the first category of Vitality Drivers. It’s not about the pastor doing these ministries on their own but identifying and equipping leaders to organize and carry out these ministries on behalf of the church.