Nuff said: Pastor ponderings

“Nuff said” is a collection of saved entries from across the interwebs. Here are some interesting, provocative and fun things for your reading and viewing. This particular entry focuses on pastors.

What It Takes to Thrive in Ministry

I really affirm some of the conclusions of the Pastors Summit Project that Kara Miller writes about in her Christianity Today article.

The Summit included 73 pastors, representing 26 states, who met in small cohorts three times per year for two years, along with their spouses and occasional outside experts such as psychologists. Each Summit meeting was recorded and transcribed, resulting in 12,000 pages of material to be analyzed, which eventually became the book Resilient Ministry: What Pastors Told Us About Surviving and Thriving.

Credit: Ron Edmonson

Credit: Ron Edmonson

What the Summit identified is that most people in a church don’t think very often of the demands of the pastoral profession. Miller suggests humorously that a pastor’s job posting would look something like this:

WANTED: Person to teach, preach, and disciple others by offering amazing insights every week. Master’s degree required, doctorate preferred. Will actually spend majority of time managing a business operated by volunteers, setting up systems, managing conflicts and politics of competing priorities, and creating and defending budgets. Volunteers will simultaneously be friends, congregants, counseling clients, critics, and the bosses who decide your career path and compensation. You’ll work on the day others are renewed and be expected to work the other days ‘normal’ people are in the office.

Bob Burns, dean of lifelong learning at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri says that a typical day for a pastor looks like:

“A pastor could have lunch with a businessperson who’s dealing with an ethical issue, then spend the afternoon working on sermon preparation, which is interrupted by three phone calls requiring pastoral care. The pastor then goes from there to the hospital, counseling a family with someone in crisis or even dying, and spends the evening at a church board meeting defending the way the budget is being spent.”

Jackson Carroll, professor emeritus at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina, and a long-term clergy researcher says that, “Pastors average more work hours per week than other managers and professionals.” I had a mixed reaction to that. I was incredulous at first and then as I considered all that pastors do on any given week, I could certainly believe that we work as much as other professionals – I don’t know about more. My speculation is that pastors are probably paid less.

The expectations of a pastor to provide leadership are immense in most local churches. As a result:

“..pastors struggled with expectations of success…  they need wisdom to wisely disappoint the expectations of their congregants. Pastors need to manage expectations of time and attention, friendship, and the pressure to produce star-caliber sermons each week like the “celebrity” pastors people listen to on podcasts or television.”

The article was both encouraging and sobering for me as a pastor. If you’re wanting to look inside the mind of a pastor, I encourage you to read Miller’s article. It has practical tips for pastors to preserve their ministry for the long haul that also include ways the local church can support their minister creatively and spiritually.

How to Talk to Your Pastor on His Way to the Service

This article is soooooo on point. I can’t tell you all the things I’ve heard right before I go preach. I’m in the hallway of the middle school that our church meets in, and… “Hey Jeff, I have an issue with how the church did _____.” One of my favorites is “Did you know that there’s an error on the website/church newsletter etc.?” Thannnnks.

On his blog, Chuck Lawless has six things that you shouldn’t say to your pastor on Sundays and six things you should say.

7 Ways to Support Your Pastor on Sunday

In the same vein, Ron Edmonson offers Seven Ways to Support Your Pastor on Sunday. My personal favorite is “Don’t share something you want us to remember.” I can’t tell you how many times someone tells me something, and by the time I leave, I can’t remember what they’ve told me!

 

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View the entire series

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