I have been in church most of my 63 years of life and have experienced several pastors along the way and evidently have been blessed in that none were in this toxic category. On the other hand, I have experienced two occasions where the elder leadership consisted of some very toxic individuals that wreaked havoc on the church flock and pastors. Several things that I have noticed is:. For example, blatant sin that is condemned in scripture that is allowed to exist within the congregation because Uncle Bob and his family have been members of this church since and they put a lot of money in the offering plate.
With this leadership dictating to the pastor what he will and will not preach and for heaven sakes keep your sermons safe and off of peoples toes. These kinds of toxic leaders make it nearly impossible for other elders of pastors to teach or preach the true word of Scripture. Attend for a few years first and talk to a lot of people. Talk to former pastors and elders. The same goes for a prospective pastor. Find out who the former ministers were and contact them.
Test the waters and look for sign of the overall spiritual health and depth of the congregation as a whole and for that of the leadership. In the beginning a church may seem too good to be true, but after attending for a few years you may discover situations taking place that will curl your hair. The church I am now attending has an overall spiritual maturity level that is about on half inch thick. Love the milk verses meat comment. We found a new Church that is nourishing us, much spiritual growth that we were starving for!
Hello Dr. My name is Vianney Bitariho, from Burundi, Africa. I think this is one of the greatest posts you have ever made. Your post exactly fits the situation in most of our churches in Burundi. I wish most of pastors could read the post and desire to change. Again thank you for this Spirit-anointed post.
This post has created quite a buzz in our congregation as it speaks to the heart of our struggle. When I read this I felt immediately validated then a little disturbed. Validated because this is exactly what many of us have been saying about our pastor for years. Disturbed because either Thom has been spying on our church or there are actually lots of other church leaders out there like ours.
Our church is at the end of a 4 year process of addressing this issue. Mercifully the end is in sight. Our pastor has agreed to leave by the end of the year. His supporters, though few, are very good people who have been taken advantage of because of their caring and tender hearts. Hopefully time away from his influence will open their eyes to the truth. The rest of us are weary and battle-scarred. We are a very loving and grace-filled congregation which made us easy prey. We are filled with hope but unsure how to move forward. You and your church are in my prayers. Thanks for sharing. I hope to write the post you suggested after I do more research.
What do you do when you encounter a leader in a Christian setting that has many or all of these traits? Do you distance yourself? Attempt to bring it to their attention? Or possibly call on other Christians together to confront the individual? Or something else? It depends on whom the person is and your status. When people get old enough to make their own decisions, quite a few vote with their feet and leave. Sometimes just walking into the work arena one can detect that all is not well. In sum, conventional understanding of Evangelical Church lines, precepts, memes and tropes… just might be horrifically wrong.
After all, it is quite common in many areas of life. Want a list? This is a long list. Not the least is most pastors are taught claptrap PCism K and consequently so are most seminaries… and who knows how to back out of that pit? In That Day Teachings explains all this, by the way. So, if fear is taught as a subtext of rapture text shenanigans… underneath everything is the promulgation of fear. Then, if prosperity is taught as a subtext of give-to-get textual shenanigans… underneath everything is the promulgation of greed. And, if emergent gobbledygook is taught as a subtext of lax-is-king via textual shenanigans… underneath everything is the promulgation of laziness.
This will drive a congregation and its leaders crazy. Just add power through high donations and audience adulation, and you will have a very fine implosion machine. Time is a slow-motion truth-doctrine-detection machine! It is still true today. Bad doctrines drive out Christ-in-You, and instead invite a crazy kind of unspeakable indwelling. But what the church is supposed to do is create non-crazy indwelling, which is Christ-in-You… a thing people must honor in each other, when present.
But that takes humility! Man… This hits way too close to home. He left dozens of wounded families in his wake. All that said, what advice would you give for: 1 A staff member a pastor like myself, but any staff trying to recover from this? I suspect that each of those questions could be the topic of entire books, nevermind blog posts…. I too would appreciate advise on dealing with this type of leader.
They maintain a membership but beyond the base who are totally duped it is a revolving door. Obviously after that length of ministry, those who grew up there think it is normal. This is so true. My wife and I just got essentially excommunicated from our church for calling out the pastor for many of these signs.
The lack of communication really fits and the autocratic abusive authority with the total lack of accountability and transparency reads like you were writing about him, honestly. Thanks for posting this, at least we are not alone in our perception. Now we just need to find a church that has healthy leadership…. Have you found a church with a health relationship. People have sometimes two faces, I like you today and hate you the next week. This is what I am dealing with, but I am only their for a season and then I will move on. Great article as well as a great response. There is so much to be said on this topic.
We had found ourselves overwhelmed by a dictitator-type system that was surrounding another associate leader who was functioning as lead Pastor. My husband and I did not realize the deep well of spiritual abuse that this leader was incurring on people, until a week or so into our job. We stayed there for 10months observing the unhealthy dynamics of an abusive system as well as attempting to bring positive change into this environment.
The 14 symptoms you wrote about, were very much there, as well as many more. One person I remember had just given their life to the Lord and that was his first church service. I observed the outright damage that was caused through shaming people for not measuring up. Sadly there were many young people in this church hungry for God, but leaving disillusioned.
Praying for wholeness in our broken communities. About a year ago, we left a church where the pastor exhibited many of these signs. We had been there ten years and for most of that time I considered this pastor to be a close friend. He was very strong on the importance of accountability, and at first this seemed spiritual, but as time went on I began to see how much the accountability was only in one direction. The process of choosing elders required unanimity among the nominating committee members, which seemed spiritual, but as time went on it became apparent to me how he was using this to keep certain people, including me, from being elders.
Not that being an elder looked all that inviting when really the only ones whose ideas were considered were the pastor and his wife. Part of this, I think, stemmed from the fact that this pastor planted the church originally, and at first had to make all the decisions, but as the church grew he was never really able to transition away from that. He was very definite that all disputes be settled using the Matthew 18 model, and that any discussion of the issue with third parties was gossip and unscriptural. Again, this seemed spiritual at first. As time went on, I found that this meant that the only allowed means of calling attention to concerns about his leadership style was to go to him individually, which tended to be difficult and I think for most people intimidating.
If it became necessary to move to the next step, bringing anyone other than an elder as your other person was condemned as gossiping. To be fair, sometimes the discipline was legitimate. In fact, when I raised the question during a conversation with him of how we could determine whether he might be mistaken, he told me straight out that I should always believe the pastor in these matters because it was not possible for pastors to be wrong in these matters, which sounded to me a lot like a Protestant version of the Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility.
Discipline was even initiated on people who had left months before and were attending other churches. Sadly, in order to make certain there would be no procedures started months down the road, we had to send a certified. I have discussed this with the elders and with other former members, but not with current members.
We are now attending a local church the previous one was in a town about 25 minutes away and it is like night and day. The best way I can describe it is that I now feel free to serve, though perhaps only a Christian can understand how those words could go together.
5 Tell-Tale Signs Your Church Is Geared to Insiders, Not Outsiders
It feels as though a physical weight has been lifted from my shoulders, and there is so much more joy in my walk with Christ. Thanks for putting up with it. Blessings to you, and please keep up the good work. We left a church with a pastor that exhibited most of these but 2, 4, 6, 11 stand out. The pastor was basically the only ruling elder. There were no other elders or deacons.
Over time, it became increasingly clear that was the way he wanted it. I walked away from music ministry at my church because the ministry leader demonstrates half of these traits. I happily served for 6 years but after around 2 years of her and her just as terrible 2IC being in charge, I became fed up as they were increasingly controlling in many aspects of ministry, condescending, autocratic, negative and downright rude.
The recurring justification for behaviour like this was that it was to create a culture of respect among ministry members which was ironic considering how disrespectful some of this behaviour was. Some examples of the condescending behaviour include:. Apparently not doing so is a sign of disrespect. In our church, ministry terms go for 1 year with a renewal at the AGM in November.
No surprise that this church has not had any growth over the past decade. Our church pastor has been abusing her powers. She has run off every member of our church leadership board and their spouses, as well as run off the rest of the major contributors to our church most of whom have served many decades. Our beloved church is now in serious financial danger. Most disturbing are her argumentative and confrontational behaviors and straight up habitual lies. She is not able to deal with people in a professional open-minded manor. We have lost respect for her as a leader.
Her own husband has now left after her unfaithful relations with multiple previous romances against her husband and children. Our church was supposed to be a sanctuary and safe haven. We leave [church name deleted] with broken hearts. I have been in Evangelical churches for 40 years now. And have attended 6 churches some of them were church plants with new pastors. But 5 of 7 pastors were pejorative to their members. They would routinely refuse to engage in discussion of different views of theology or ecclesiology that had nothing to do whatsoever with orthodoxy.
It was their way or the highway. And only 2 of the 7 demonstrated the fruit of the spirit as outlined in Galatians 5. Although 6 of 7 appeared humble and transparent from the pulpit, again only 2 of the 7 were humble and transparent once you got to know them. It seems that with large non-relational churches it is incredibly easy to fake spiritual maturity as a pastor. One of the most humble in appearence would ask his staff to find out where an assistant pastor was interviewing to become a senior pastor. He had a network of spies. He would then call that church pastor where the assistant was interviewing unsolicited.
He would berate the individual assistant and kill the job offer. He would do this to other ministers who came to do joint projects in the city. After hearing about this behavior for the 3rd time in two years, by different victims who were close to me, I confronted the Sr. He denied it at first and when I said I was going to call the other Pastor where my friend was interviewing the Sr. Pastor admitted to poisoning the interview process! And I should never be questioned as to the direction of a ministry. They are all my ministries!
Without a word of discussion. He has a daily radio program in the Midwest. He has spoken at national Christian and political events. He has published several books on Evangelicalism. And he has the emotional maturity of a child. Yet every pastor in the city has the goal to be like this guy above! What happened to spending an entire life trying to be conformed into the image of Jesus?
As humble as Billy Graham from the pulpit but closer to Donald Trump once you get to know him personally. I agree, Karl, about giving ministers a test for NPD. This man wrote an autobiography, which is about the most narcissistic thing a Christian could ever do. Any Christian who writes an autobiography is a likely candidate for NPD. As for Donald Trump, in spite of his many narcissistic traits, I actually think he has a lot of admirable qualities as well.
The most dangerous part of this profile is that the sycophants they foster also have power—and want to protect it at any cost. It is very damaging to lay leadership who feel bullied and isolated—and also damaging to the greater body of the Church as no one dares to confront problems, lest they be the next victims. I whole-heartedly agree that this apparently is more common than one might think.
In fact, our last 4 churches have been this way. The last one, I confronted the leadership and voiced what I witnessed to the leadership team. At the moment, I am done. This is much more common than you think. Thank you so much for posting this article. My Pastor displays all 14 of these signs!! A few church leaders have been trying to decide hope to handle this. The church non-denominational and really has no formal board or council. We were thinking about confronting the pastor? Any thoughts or advice on this? I attended a Baptist church when I was 8. I quit going because the pastor preached screamed so loudly it hurt my ears.
I still love and believe in Jesus but had skipped traditional worship until recently. I found a church that seemed like a good place with nice people. However, I was initially worried because the senior Pastor seems stern. One of the other pastors was giving a sermon and mentioned being chewed out for forgetting to turn the heat on the baptism tub? It is a fairly large church. The son has been preaching for 15 yrs. When the pastor s are giving the sermon, we open our bibles and refer to the same passage as he speaks. A newbie? I also feel as if this church is interested in knowing more of my personal business than I feel comfortable sharing.
The younger pastor had a private meeting with me and tried to cajole my exact date of birth, etc. I would like to get to know them a little better. April 3, I just left such a church where the pastor — sadly — fit many of your symptoms. But if I know him, he is thinking that he must doing a good job cleaning out the house and patting himself on the back. This is his first pastorate and he is young. Rather than go on about him or criticizing him further, I just leave him to God. Carollyn, it is as if you had written about us. We left our church at the end of , we actually felt sorry for our pastor as so many were leaving.
We were able to go to a church where we knew some people — we are truly blessed! There are still great churches around with God fearing people in them. I hope you are able to find one. May God Bless you. I had to walk away from a ministry I love due to this kind of leader. It became so emotionally and spiritually unhealthy. It was just the leader in charge of all the daily tasks — with others who joined in for a once-a-month event. Once I got close enough, I realized why the ministry had not grown in nearly 10 years, and why there was no team.
It is a scripture that encouraged me in our situation! If leaders took seriously this message from Jesus himself, they may act differently! Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. Thank you so much for this! I attended a church led by one such pastor for 2. It makes me so sad that it took me that long to make up my mind about him. Part of it was confusion — I wondered how a man who seemed so passionate for God in a city that was mostly godless could simultaneously be so selfish and godless.
He is single and in his mid-thirties. His choice of women was interesting, to say the least. They only had to identify as church-goers and be drop-dead-gorgeous. The scales fell off my eyes and I was able to see him for who he was not just in this area but in all other areas of his life and leadership. I could see why his church had such a small number of devotees 4 or 5 at most with everyone else leaving soon after they joined. One of the devotees commented in one meeting that I was the only one who had ever joined and stayed.
Thank you again for this article. My heart breaks for those Christians who are discouraged under a toxic leader. I also realize that church members can be toxic too. Thank you Thom for this article. We recently changed churches due to a toxic pastor. We tried to hang in there with him since we had been members and leaders in the church for many years before he was brought on.
Not really understanding the situation it seemed he had two personalities. Supportive and caring on one hand but then something would switch in him and then he was against anything that our denomination stood for. He, from the beginning, eliminated the church counsel and had a hard time getting folks to work with him. After an explosive meeting with myself and the finance committee, I knew that my time there was over. My husband tried to make sense in this and also had a very bad meeting.
Each of these meetings were in front of several others. In reading your list he exhibits all 14 of those on the list. Now I know I am not crazy in what was being exhibited in him. The pastor we are now under is younger, understanding and is a breath of fresh air. We are looking forward to serving there with them. My wife and I just had to experience this at a church. What has been the most shocking to us is that over 35 families have left this church over the last 12 years and many we have spoken to after leaving experienced the similar issues with the leadership.
Even more sad is that expressing concerns to the upper most management of the denomination headquarters did nothing. As it turns out, it ended up being to good ole boys club where there was like a huge cover up from top to bottom allowing the bad behavior to continue over and over again. Manipulation and not allowing for other opinions, ideas, or disagreement caused micro management and just seem to suck the life and energy out of the members and those attending regularly so the numbers have gone from say a Sunday to 25 or 30 over the last decade….
I would like to know what does a married man with 2 kids do when his Pastor shows at least 10 of these signs you mentioned? My heart reaches out to you. This to me seems like a case where you need some serious prayer and careful, deliberate action. A good, open conversation about the situation would be a good starting point. I wish you all the best. Pastor Tom, I am dealing with what I believe to be a very toxic leader.
It is extremely difficult. I am a missionary, serving another missionary. I am a HUGE believer in honoring authority. And I am stumped as to how to handle the situation. Thank you. This is far more common than you believe, probably because we as members of the congregation are taught that we are being divisive if we say anything to anyone, including the offending leader. And if we leave the church, we are to keep our mouths shut when anyone asks why, even if they repeat a lie they heard about it..
I suppose it is a way of protecting the reputations of the leaders; marginalizing or demonizing someone who left keeps everyone from questioning what really happened. It is the entire leadership at my former church that is problematic…the pastor is given to lies and temper outbursts, and another elder is always covering up for him and explaining his behavior away.
That elder is the one really in control of the church, and he is also a terrible gossip. The remaining elders are total yes-men. Standards of behavior are applied unevenly, depending on whether or not the person is in favor. The church is down to a third of its membership, with very high turnover, and a high number of people who have left hurt and disillusioned.
It is an independant church with no higher board or organization to go to…I feel helpless. I feel the place will self-destruct. The leadership has managed to set things up so they cannot be held accountable…they have a form of diplomatic immunity. I wish I could find sound scriptural guidelines on how to deal with a situation like this, because when going to them and enduring the backlash was over, all I could do at that point was leave. I am living this situation now with my pastor. He was a great pastor for years and now, maybe 3 or more years ago, he started to show these signs.
None of the other elders is willing to speak out although we all agree. We are afraid of talking because we are going to be put down immediately by him so we prefer not to speak. How can I deal with this situation? God help me. I am in Korea now and watching my parents go through a difficult situation, they were called back into the church from the mission field in Nepal to take over the church in Korea. The head pastor of this church has a team of elders of which the most influential are related to him, and plans to keep his whopping salary what an executive at a firm would be paid after retirement.
It seems the elders have agreed to this… as the ascending head pastor, what should my father do? I can see that he is stressed out about this and knows how much money this pastor has taken from this small personish church. What is the best way to deal with this? The hardest part about reading all these replies is the cries for help from the members that are suffering under a toxic Pastor. Harder still, is that there are no answers from any readers to these cries for help. I am left to conclude there are no answers, and there is no hope for reconciliation.
And a prideful man cannot see his error, cannot be reasoned with, cannot feel compassion or conviction. I see wounded Elders leaders and I see wounded congregation servant leaders, which is the body of Christ. ALSO… sorry to step on toes here, however the word Pastors is only mentioned once in the bible. However our modern day church lumps them in as the Elder.
Pastors no matter how much you want to stretch it , are not the Elders of the church, at least not according to the Scriptures. Sadly, the modern day church has cast out the apostles, the prophets, evangelist, and has only adopted two of the five and call them the leaders. The teachers are evangelist, pastors, teachers if we refer back to Ephesians We are New Testament, and Jesus called some to be….
Ephesians The Elders are appoint by the body 1 Timothy Chapter 3 and 1 Peter 5. MANY people come out of their schooling and self appoint themselves to a called position, and Jesus never called them. I believe that still holds true to this day. No wonder so many are leaving the corporate church structure, they only see hate, And division, unforgiveness, and slander. It has caused a lot of conflict among the church board members, and my mother has gone through at least two emotional meltdowns.
I have not been going to church much as a result, though I am still reading my Bible. I am currently in a church that meets eleven of those symptoms. When I was twelve, I made the mistake of confronting the former youth pastor after she did something that caused one of my closest friends to leave Christianity entirely. Over the five years since, I have been attacked verbally by church leaders on several occasions, had many nasty rumors spread about me, and been banned from certain ministries—and I am far from the only one who has been treated this way.
The youth pastor was finally removed from her position three years ago after I brought things up at the conference level—and PROMOTED to another position within the church. Needless to say, the situation did not improve. There was an incident about a year ago where I literally stood between the new youth pastor and a friend of mine to keep him from saying anything destructive to her. I have been forbidden to speak of any of the issues, and have learned the hard way what happens when I do not follow this rule.
My prayers are with anyone else who is in a toxic church. I am going through this right now. We have an Interim Pastor, who fits all of the bullet points above, who has caused so much chaos and confusion and the deacons and trustee chair just seem to let him get away with treating people horrible. They took it upon themselves to remove a member from our membership role by a certified letter.
This violates our Constitution and By-Laws! Every member termination is to be voted on by the church. This young man, that was arbitrarily thrown out, did nothing wrong, other than he stood up to the interim pastor and was not liked for it. I have prayed about this and am still struggling with trying not to feel resentful and upset over the way things were handled. God calls us to a higher standard of love and compassion, and if we cannot show our own brother or sister in Christ a Christlike love, then how can we expect God to bless us?
Now, because I have sided with the person that was effectively black-listed and thrown out, I am being targeted as well. When Jesus tells us we will be persecuted, you never think it will be from your own brothers and sisters in Christ. How does one get past this sort of thing? My faith is fairly strong but I am really struggling with this. I am wondering if there is a central church body that we can report to … for example, Catholics can report to their central committees, etc. Many of the characteristics mentioned fit the criteria of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder.
If not, any suggestion or advice on what i can do? Yes, I know some toxic leaders. Two especially, the senior pastor and the pastor in charge of the food ministry provide lunches for needy. This FM curses consistently, the most vile language every day. Often has threatened people; one time he threatened a long-time 80 year old volunteer he looks much younger and I had to physically intervene. Was the FM dismissed? Assault and battery! Just a few months ago he threatened a top 71 year young volunteer, and when I backed him up, the FM threatened me, I made it plain I was not playing MMA sports fighting; ever since he has been courteous to me, somewhat.
Four witnesses have told me FM uses drugs; during one evening meal I was not present he threw down a chef knife and broke it … in a secular workplace he would be fired immediately. The list goes on and on. His young daughter was divorced after a few months, and then she married again. The two sons are mirrors of their dad. The poor wife has serious health problems, possibly caused by stress.
Fortunately, I was raised with excellent parents, good self esteemed, no abuse, so I can withstand such cult-atmosphere. My husband and I are about 6 months out of an abusive church that we spent more than 10 years in. That is, until I brought up a concern to the pastor and he turned on me. He lashed out in anger and questioned my loyalty to him, I was accused of calling him a heretic, my access to the church was shut off I was on staff and other staff refused to let me in. The pastor told blatant lies about me and other people defended him to great lengths.
I apologized for any hurt I had caused. It made no impact. Then, when my husband decided that it was time for us to walk away, we were labeled as rebellious and disrespectful. I have never felt so much confusion in my life… which was also used against me. The first couple of months after we left felt completely impossible….
Impossible to trust. Impossible to forgive. Impossible to move forward. Impossible to live. This has provided language and insight that I never would have known otherwise. My heart broke when I read your article and characteristics. It broke even more to read the comments knowing that this happens more frequent than I would have ever thought. In this situation, I see everyone of these in our pastor.
Our pastor is a tenderhearted person who outside of our church demonstrates the 1 well and for the most part tries to do the same at our church. The exception to this is when family is involved. Most people are leaving those who have the spirit or influence. Our situation primarily involves family. A very bad situation occurred and it was complicated by the Pastor. As you begin to bring this to his attention, bam.. These are not normal outbursts.
He thrives on intimidation. Shortly, he begins to 8 which in turn gets him back to a 6. Before long, 7 creeps its ugly head to cover themselves and become very 9. I never knew a man of God could be that Manipulative. I can truly say that majority of this stems from both 10 and 13 with 13 being the main issue. All I want to see is God save souls. Please pray for our church and me to make the right decision to stay if needed or to move and take my family to a place where they can be fed and be happy again.
God Bless. Rainer, what should an employee do if they have been working for a highly thought of publicly, but an extremely toxic leader? A lot of people have left, but as each one leaves its explained away and they seem to be the strong ones, leaving and not airing dirty laundry on their way out. Additionally and possibly more important, what would a proper response to committed members of the church when they ask what is going on, and why I would leave. Is it more loving to tell those who ask the truth or to let them remain in an unhealthy environment where eventually if they get close enough will be hurt?
He has been working under a pastor who certainly seems to meet all the requirements for being a toxic leader. We would have taken a bullet for this man and his family early on, but as the months turned to years we both see the negative effects this type of leadership has on our family, marriage, and personal growth. We feel spiritually drained from all directions with no end in sight. With nearly no emotional maturity or personal loyalty. Quick to anger. Quick to blame.
However, the staff culture is abysmal. Imagine that part of your unspoken assignment is mitigating his abrasive manners or elitism so he can be or act any way he pleases at all times. He is smart, not compassionate. He has vision, not kindness. When did we stop valuing the pastoral qualities of a pastor?! And why was I on board with this? What advice would you give the spouse of someone who is in the process of feeling disillusioned with their leader and even friend? We considered ourselves friends.
We broke bread together. I value the friendship of his wife even with the many boundaries I have to keep in place. There is no accountability. Many have left, but all are isolated from each other as if the taboo of gossip has silenced any real truth. Or we are isolated from them naturally because we were complicit in the campaign that drove them out. The stories all have the same holes in the same places.
We have shared personal information with him we feel leaves us vulnerable. My husband comes home from work drained and dreading the next day, next meeting, etc. What can I do? What should I do? I feel very helpless as the spouse. Thanks for such an insightful article. He would take these people off rosters so that these people would not be seen publicly to reduce their influence.
Where is the love for the sheep — this is the mandate given by Christ to the leadership — feed my lambs. Hope they read Ezekiel chp Hand in hand with this is the lack of faith. A man of faith will trust God and always try to do the right thing, No manipulation, no half truths, no double face. If you lose your job, so what? But if someone becomes a pastor but has never been called by God, he cannot claim such promises — hence he has to rely on worldly wisdom and schemes.
Thankfully, there are still real pastors out there — a rare breed. If you find them, do all you can to support them. Good pastors often have members from hell to deal with. I have always reserved honor and respect for pastors and even rebuked fellow members in the past who were less than respectful to our previous pastors.
But this new leader has indeed disturbed my inner peace that i used to get while attending church weekly, now I do not even desire to attend sunday worship as the sermons are too repetitive full of personal stories, and showing his own wisdom and knowledge above the essence of what Jesus is really asking us, he is manipulative also and has been ignoring me ever since i saw through his facade. Can you please guide and advise me. Hope you understand.
I agree with everything in this article except for the idea that it is a rarity among church leaders. I believe it happens not necessarily on purpose to some degree in just about every church. It takes a lot of humility and Godly wisdom to see it and overcome it. I am not a minister or a church leader… I was looking for answers and came across this article. Unfortunately my husband is blind to it. I never thought a leader in the church would behave this way and that there would even be a list of this sort.
That maybe I was what was wrong.
5 Things You Can Do To Make Your Congregation A Caring Church – Online Books
We got a new minister. I put up with his pro-children harassment for a year before they finally fired me. My life cannot be put back together. I have no insurance and autoimmune problems that started exactly 5 days after me being fired.
- The Book of Dreams (Saxon Series 1)?
- 10 Things You Should Know about Church Elders | Crossway Articles.
- Sulat ng Kaluluwa.
Just like everyone else in my life, God threw me away. I have to say I had some of the same exact things to happen to me, I was weak and I wondered for years what had I done to deserve such cruel treatments. People can treat you one way but that is not coming from a loving God.
What is she has gone out of her way to ignore, not make eye contact, snap at you, etc…? What if you have talked to the Pastor about it and all he did was send you Matthew 18 and tell you not to name names? I really Appreciate ANY advice you can give. I recently quit well was forced out of a church because of the pastors daughter has a problem with me for some reason and the pastor fit most of these as he shows favoritism to his own daughter instead of getting both sides he automatically takes her side and lies when confronted about it.
Its disrespectful. This is an excellent and accurate description. The long term ramifications on the individuals and families particularly wives and teenage children can have deep psychological, spiritual, and even physical impact. Loss of community and the sudden shift in reality is jarring enough to lead many to experience a range of symptoms associated with ptsd. These cowardly narcissistic leaders need to be called out but their victims are generally too wounded and the remaining folks often either too afraid to rock the boat or left completely in the dark and confusion due to the rampant deception.
As hellish as it can be to just let it all go and let the toxic leader continue his syrup-infused reign, it is much more terrifying to keep risking further emotional and spiritual harm to self or family. But that is blinding many. Anyway, he gets very angry and the true colors show if anyone dares to disagree with him on anything.
Yet he turns it around on the other person. Even gentle, kind disagreement receives harsh words from him but he excused it as being pushed in a corner and lashing back even though he was not attacked. I have mentioned a couple of things to him, requests, etc always waiting until I can do so in a positive manner because he is very defensive.
Yet he still has taken a terrible dislike toward me and has made my church life a miserable and hostile thing. We have Covenanted with this body.
We are a small church in a small town in a small state. The health and spirit of our congregation is in jeopardy. He always has an excuse that loosely corresponds worn a Scripture to support the validity of which. Is there more info available as to how to approach such a volatile situation? Our pastor is very arrogant, prideful, overbearing, manipulative, has a merry band of followers to sing his praises, makes claims that God will get rid of All the troublemakers by moving them away, or even killing them off in an auto accident or cancer.
He is not accountable to me for how he spends every hour of every day because he keeps a crazy schedule, but he should be working. Pastors need to remember that they lead volunteer organizations. Much is written about energizing the membership to engage in ministry. If church members are working hours per week then coming out and giving of their free time for the work of the ministry pastors should be leading by example and working just as hard.
As for the attitude of some that since I have never been a pastor then I am not qualified to comment or have expectations. I would remind all who feel that way that by that logic there are only four men alive today who are qualified to examine and critique the President of the United States and the rest of us need to just be quiet and trust him that he is getting the job done. There is always more to do.
- 2. "Covenant Membership" is intentional commitment to every other member..
- 1. Elders are shepherds.!
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The question is about priorities. Rather I think the point is that Pastors need to have boundaries around their time, to make sure they are not allowing the job to overcome their other duties. Such as to their wives and children. The importance of the work, and the nature of it, can easily allow it to become priority 1 — overwhelming everything else — it is critically important that a pastor be able to delegate, and to draw appropriate boundaries around himself, his time and his family.
In part — I believe this is why God designed the church to be led by both Elders and Deacons — not by one man. Like much of the Christian walk, there needs to be balance. Having been on the board at our church for too long, Ii have had the privledge of working with a number of pastors. Some were energized by being with people while others felt drained after lots of personal interaction. As a board member, there is a responsibility to encourage, offer, and support the pastor and family, but at the same time not try to manage them.
I would pray that there is a responsible church board that encourages the pastor in all of this. My hat is off to you pastors. A pastor should put in 40 hours a week outside of the normal church functions I. Sunday worship. Meaning their full time role should match the 40 hours other are putting in and then they should attend the church and be part of its functioning to the same degree other members are requested. When I say 40 this should include sermon teaching prep as well as other ministry relates things such as hospital visits.
I think most laypeople would say they want their pastor to work about 40 hours a week. They would say they want to make sure he takes time off and spends time with his family. They want to make sure he is not at the church working into the evening most nights. They want all those thing to happen until they have a question for him, or they need to talk to him about something, or someone they are close to family or friend needs visited or counseled with or whatever.
Then those other wants mentioned earlier seem to take a backseat to what is important to them right now. And that would be okay, if it was only that one person who needed something, but how many people do pastors serve? People myself included at times want what they want when they want it. If the pastor is expected to do these things, then the church is set up to fail. The pastor should be spending the majority of his time equipping those twelve deacons to do those things and build into the church a culture of multiplication and delegation.
Furthermore, so much emphasis on one man can be idolatrous in that members will go beyond having a biblically healthy attitude of honor and respect to thinking of him as their functional savior. I am all for pastors have a strong and robust work ethic, but he is not omnicompetent and and omnipresent.
This is where, Dr. Rainer, I think your book Simple Church is very helpful. How many pastors have poor marriages or end up in infidelity and divorce? Weekly we hear those reports, right? How is he dedicating time to shepherd his family, raise his kids, and model family life devotion to his congregation? If a pastor cannot shepherd his family, he cannot rightly shepherd a church. Actually I think there was one for pastors. I think one of the best ways for we pastors to do that is invite other people into our lives and give them permission to see how we labor among the flock and engage the community.
Thanks Tim. I am praying for a real renewal and revival in congregations across our land. Only He can ultimately turn dysfunction into health. Some of the comments to your post are great. Most, however, discouraged me. It seems that many church families, deacons, elders are placing unbiblical and un realistic goals on their leaders. AND they are expecting their leaders to do many tasks that the whole church family should be engaging in visiting, counseling, discipling, evangelism.
I am saying it is not mainly supposed to be their job. We are all called to make disciples who make disciples. We are all called to do the work of ministry. I pray a lot that some day they will be more considerate. Things will not happen if the whole congregation thinks they can sit back and wait for the pastor to do it all. If all twelve deacons list 1 hour of prayer does that equal 1 hour or 12 hours a week in your list.
So, if a deacon had a minimum of 5 hours a week as the highest expectation for prayer among all deacons, I used his hours. I suspected as much. Instantaneous communication has created an expectation that everything will be done right now. In reality, that results in starting everything right now and truly finishing little. The email flashes an alert on the screen, the cell phone rings, and so forth and we try to respond immediately. Organize your day to respond to email and paper mail, if you still get any and voice mail.
May I call you at ? Use it. You are not the only problem solver. Delegate to others the least pastoral aspects of your workload. They will learn and grow from doing what you might do better. With experience, they may do things better than you can. It happens. We all have amazing gifts. Do the rest, but question whether the activity you are doing really needs to be done. Time is finite, but demands are near infinite.
I maintain mine on heavy paper with pencil so I can erase completed activities and replace those blanks spaces with challenges. Trust me that a few activities will be four times more productive than your average and many will be only a quarter as productive. Pack your days with the former; defer or delegate the latter. These are opportunities to work with Him and to learn from him. While ministering to a rural church, back in , at a quarterly business meeting, I handed out a similar survey to those present, basically to determine what the congregation thought were the priorities of their pastor.
Since this was a mostly rural situation, the average driving time to the various hospitals was 65 minutes. When completing the total hours to include travel times, the average total visitation hours per week was 79 hours per week. When adding up the averages of all sixteen responsibilities the total weekly hours came to hours and 22 minutes per week! When the church was presented with these conclusions they were blown away. Six months later, when we re-surveyed the church, the total number of hours dropped to average and 12 minutes hours per week.
The interesting things was in area of visitation all four separate aspects noted above. Nothing changed! As for our Deacons, with the exception of one hold-out, they agreed it would be better for them to handle or oversee the administrative work, attend and report from all committees and represent the church in local and state denominational work. Most of the church thought that marriage, personal and conflict counseling should be referred or outsourced. It would be interesting to see what would happen if the survey included such things as family time, relaxation, and sleep.
The expectations of church members—on the part of many—are unrealistic, demanding, and rude. Church members are not de facto employers. No staff man should have to bear the brunt of a disgruntled church member alone. Basically, I spend 11 hours a day working M-Th take and take Friday off.
Sunday is usually an 8 hour day for me. So if our members are working and volunteering so much, how can we say we should only work 40 hours? However, be careful not to become so legalistic in this…counting hours, or suffering publically for the Lord, etc is not our calling. Ministry is a lifestyle and happens all around us. Just know when you need those retreats. Even Jesus knew when He needed renewal. To answer the question of the post, I refuse to let the unrealistic expectations of others control my life.
Sunday morning services 3. Sure, you can argue that that should be incorporated into meetings and administrative duties. But what if Pastors, especially early on in their service at a new appointment, spent even as much as 10 hours a week specifically on developing leaders in various aspects of ministry? What if they nurtured effective hospital and home visitors, rather than doing all of the visits themselves?
What if they nurtured, empower and granted authority to committee chairpersons AND those chairpersons future mentees, rather than attending every committee meeting? What if they worked very hard on the front end in assigning routine tasks to and granting authority to administrative help in order to allow them to know and understand administrative issues without needing permission at every turn?
Just a thought. Yes, those statistics are surprising. That is why churches have elders, deacons and other leaders that oversee certain groups and activities. While I do understand that people want pastors involved in every aspect of the church, I think we have to be reasonable and realize that, they too, have families and other things going on. We have to allow them to have lives outside of the church.
A pastor, by the nature of his position, is probably expected to put in more than a 40 hour week. But hours? There have to be priorities that the pastor should be involved in, and understanding if some of the other things have to go. My wife and I are members of a baptist congregation of or so people with two elders who serve full time. No deacons, no other pastors, etc.
Most professionals I know or have worked with put in way more than 40 hours a week and have no choice in the matter if they want to feed their wife and children. Back when society was more agricultural in nature, most subsistance farmers worked far more than 40 hour weeks.
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I think it is great for those who are able to, but I think it will be remembered as a brief blip in history, rather than any sort of societal norm. So pastors should not think that working 40 hours a week plus Sunday is normal for them or any of the members. My second point would be that most pastors and members are programmed to death. Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday evening, small groups, outreach, prison ministry, etc. More focus on the essentials would greatly reduce a lot of the demand that both pastors and lay people feel.
In my brief time observing people in full-time ministry, you usually have two types: 1. Extremely hard working to the point of exhaustion for all the reasons you mentioned. That might sound harsh, but that has been my experience. For the pastors who fall into the first camp, they spend a lot of time trying to make up for the people who fall into the second camp.
Another point I would make is that many churches either do not trust or do not properly train fathers to lead their family. So either we have a bunch of goat fathers posing as Christians, or the elders and pastors do not trust the fathers to perform their God given responsibilities laid out by Paul. The last issue that I think pastors struggle with is that there are not many examples in the NT of ministers receiving a full-time salary for their work.
Those are just my thoughts as a member of my church that we love and cherish so much. Thanks for the article! Tom, fantastic question to ask. I calculate that based on the good supportive layman working a 40 hour a week job, plus he or she giving another 5 hours to ministry and attending church on top of that. I believe studies have shown that working longer hours on something we love is not as draining as the mental stress we take home after hours—ie, constantly ruminating over problems, unmet expectations, etc.
Just a few thoughts. I love it when I read pastors say they should only work hours a week yet expect their membership to work a full time job hours per week and then give another 20 or more in service to the church. I just want him to appreciate what he is asking of the people he leads and to reflect that in his own work ethic. Thankfully, mine does.
Insightful topic and comments. There is an emotional toll on the mind and body and family that comes with ministry that does not exist in most secular jobs. In my experience, the average church member does not spend 20 hours volunteering or preparing and I would add that any worship service your pastor is leading is likely not a recharging or renewal time for him. Maybe as a church we should consider praying regularly for our pastor and allowing God to direct his schedule more than our own preconceived ideas.
A little freedom to concentrate on the activities that will make the largest impact and reach the largest number of people could go a long way. Our experience has been that people have no idea how many hours he truly works. And each member has their own set of expectations which they just assume you will know. All those extra minutes really add up, but few congregants, or even deacons, stop to consider that. I hope your husband will soon find a groove that will allow him at least one day off and a church that can understand that need. We find it very refreshing.
Our family does quite a bit of ministry together in order to spend time together. My children are not bothered by funeral homes and can navigate most of the hospitals in our area. Be careful of expectations. The combination of these two can be fatal to your ministry and your family. It eventually tore our family apart when I was still a child. I had a seething hatred for the church for much of my youth and young adult years. I can expand on this if asked. Our God is focused on addition and multiplication, not division and subtraction.
How much time should a Pastor work? If you are adding to the Kingdom and multiplying disciples who make disciples for the glory of God, you are on the right track and there is no other measure of success in ministry. You may not be able to do all that the church requires of you, but Jesus has promised to be with you and He has given you everything you need to do what it is He expects of you.
In our case, there was plenty of fault to lay at the feet of all involved, but grace abounds and God has healed our hearts many times over. I am a lay person who has been on staff in the past. No matter how many hours a week a pastor spends at his calling, it will never be enough. The problem with being the pastor is that you have fill in the size of your church — 25, 50, , , bosses and each one thinks that one area of ministry is more important than another. We have a pastor now who runs himself absolutely ragged trying to cover all the bases.
As you might expect, none of them gets covered well. So much of what a congregation does that wears down the pastor is just pure selfishness. I agree with some of the other posters that the pastor should concentrate his time in study and shepherding. The most important thing a pastor can do to minimize selfishness in his congregation is continually point his people back to Christ and not himself for their security. He must gently and respectfully explain why he cannot be involved in every program the church puts forth and meet his first obligation as a minister of the gospel. Thom, I love this discussion.
I am a new pastor and am working over 50 hours per week bi-vocationally. I do not feel the pull of expectations from my congregation in a great way yet but I can sense a level of disappointment when I have to say no to a home visit or hanging out though I want to because I have to go to work or spend time with my family we have 2 kids under 5.
I put a lot of stress on myself as our church was a 20 year old church that dwindled down to 15 people. I am putting expectations on myself. I am interested to know how my team feels and think I will ask them to answer some of the same questions. And I definitely need to make sure I am equipping and releasing those on our team to live their dreams and to fulfill roles within the church.
I sure could use some input. Thanks Thom. I often had a lot of guilt even after 60 hours of work a week. After being exhausted and wanting to do be in ministry for as long as possible, I needed a change. So after wise counsel, I adopted a practice of dividing my week into 21 segments. I devote 15 segments to ministry and 6 to family. I never get all that needs done, fully accomplished but its been healthier for me and my family.
When I first saw this blog title, I thought of Acts The results of the proper delegation of authority? The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly… verse7. A good article, although indicative of an unrealistic expectation on the part of those deacons, one that I have never found in any of the eight churches I have worked for, which surprises me. I find this is often the case for many of my members, so I do not consider this unreasonable, although I am not paid as much as those same members. There is a disparity of pay scale with similar secular careers, but that is an understanding I accepted as a part of the calling to ministry.
Ministers are not hourly employees. There is no such thing as a 40 hour work week. Ministers are more akin to supervisors or managers who are paid to do the job no matter how many hours it takes. Occasionally I have worked longer weeks during times of sacrifice when the church was mounting new programs, conducting seminars and conferences, etc.
But again, the same is expected of my secular counterparts, especially when they own their own business. No one works harder than an owner. Two of the principles that I have endeavored to honor are as follows: 1 — I am not paid for Sundays. My members volunteer their time to come, and I volunteer my time to serve. I do not ask them to do what I am not willing to do. My paid work week is Tuesday through Saturday.
Yes, that often means twelve hour days. Again, my secular counterparts often do the same. Why should ministers do less? For me this is often Mondays. Here is where there is a bit of role reversal for the minister. The Sabbath rest means ceasing from your occupation, job, business, or whatever you do for a living. For a minister, that is ceasing from church work. On the contrary, going to worship services for our members is a Sabbath rest. God bless. I love your post! Thank you for serving in your role without having a attitude of superiority over your congregants and for working hard at your job!
My only squabble would be with your view of the Sabbath. Where does your idea come that the Sabbath is different for you than for your congregants? Where is the Scriptural basis for a pastor taking his Sabbath on Monday for instance, did the Levitical priests celebrate the Sabbath on a different day than Saturday?! Pastoral ministry is a wonderful place to be a workaholic. And it is a wonderful place to be lazy. Perhaps, the most important strategy is to talk about it. Posts like this are a chance for everyone involved to listen. Thanks for the post. I was going to answer the question directly, but a single answer will be the wrong answer.
There are too many qualitative factors to come up with a single answer; however, there are some principles. For reference, I write as a lay elder in a church where there is a pastoral team. The more we are equipped to do, the more equipped the church will be. That removes a great burden from the pastor. I value my with my pastor more than any other meeting. That should allow him to spend his time on the most important things and not to do everything.
He should not work longer than his elders average working week plus their average voluntary time given to service in the congregation. How you treat a Sunday in that equation is open debate. If he can be salt and light locally, the rest of us have no excuse! There is no right answer, but the lay leadership has a duty of care to make sure he does not burn out and he looks after his family.
This is to say nothing of pay and benefits to the pastor. The reality is we do not pay pastors to do a job, we pay them so they are freed up for ministry. As a wisdom issue, if a pastor is consistently spending more than 55 hours per week ministering to those outside his family it might be time for introspection.
I realize that many congregations have horribly unrealistic expectations and those shoukd be graciously addressed rather than ignored ormendured, but I think many pastors bring this on themselves because they like to feel needed and retain formthemselves activities that others should be doing. There IS too much for one man to do. Multiple staff helps. Plurality of pastoral Elders helps. But still… I think the problem is our structure, not the number of hired guns we employ. Smaller equals bigger in terms of impact in my mind… and I think the scriptures support this view at least inferentially.
Completely agreed!!!! Yes, it should not be a one-man show! It is also crazy to me how many of the pastors weighing in on this discussion think they should not have to work more than hours per week, and yet their non-paid elders and deacons work that much or more! Example is Sunday evening service. All other church staff is missing out on fellowship with the body. If the rest of us behaved accordingly, no one would be a part of the fellowship. You have to add travel, support raising, correspondence and the hours spent just trying to understand the culture and language in everyday life.
I remember in my first term as a missionary being told that it was expected for us to work at least hours a week but that none of the things we would ordinarily be doing as a believer could be counted toward those hours, no church attendance, bible study, visiting etc even if in a leadership role. I was putting in a avg. But the work is never ending. Most laymen work a hours a week in secular jobs. In addition they attend Sunday worship, Sunday School Classes, Wednesday night services, choir practices, special programs, and home Bible Studies.
They may also participate in evangelism, various service projects, and other good works within the church. I would say the pastor should do no less. The Biblical standard is six days of work to one day of rest. It is a blessing to a congregation when the pastor works behind the scenes for 40 hours and then joyfully attends or leads the scheduled church events. If this becomes an impossibility, then perhaps the church is scheduling too many events which become a burden to everyone in the congregation and not just the pastor.
Thom, Greatly enjoyed reading this thoughtful little piece. It made me think, as I am a missionary, what similar expectations might be made of me and others by our supporters back home. I feel like the missionary position has changed, but the stereotype has not. I would be curious to provide my supporters a similar type of questionnaire to see what their expectations of myself would be. Again, thanks for the post. As the wife of a pastor, I see how hard my husband works and that his time is not his own.
Would that be considered part of his ministry duties, or would that, like some have implied to me, more along the lines of an extra thing although he is expected to be there and be involved. I think the people at your church have a very good point. My pastor expects us to be at all the services and activities of the church, but he leads by example — always joyful to be leading or attending. What a difference would be evident in the church in America if every pastor actually did spend 14 hours a week in prayer! I agree with your statement. It was not my intention to pit pastors against other believers.
To the pastor that mentioned being bi-vocational. Personally I like my ministers to have real-world experience and admire them all the more for it. I am both a part time pastor and a member of a local church. My opinion of how much time a pastor should work in a week it connected more to priorities than hourly commitment. First, the pastor is called to lead the flock into a closer relationship with God in a spiritual way and then to do whatever is necessary to provide social help for the needs of the people, next.
If he is a good delegator, he will be making disciples of others to help in this exponitional ministry, and have more time for getting closer to God, himself. We can get wrapped up in doing good things and miss the most important thing—the great Commission. What I expect is that the doors be open for scheduled services even if deacons or others do the preaching when the preacher needs a break or is overwhelmed by unexpected emergencies. Our local church has built a big, beautiful building that is used about 6 times a month for adult messages. No one flinched when the pastor cut the schedule down to this.
What I also expect if for the pastor and deacons to not play favorites to people whose opinions are safe, and socially accepted, and to preach the whole word of God. What I am trying to convey is that ministry, time-wise, can be kept to a minimum by controlling the activities of the church and keeping it more socially oriented. Or the whole church can step up and embrace the process of making disciples that carry on the work, spiritually oriented as the priority. This can be frightening and seem to be a loss of control, but we are all foolish to think we cannot trust the Holy Spirit to keep it straight.
He is the one who has built it in the first place throughout the centuries. The approach to ministry will be different from pastor to pastor, according to how he sees ministry, and the time will reflect his approach. What concerns me most is that many preachers will not follow the vision God gave them for fear of the brethern, and the possibility they will not be able to work any longer in a larger church is they are dismissed. I say to you, walk the path God gives you and He will take care of your future. The church is only a small part of evangelism in this age of cross-culture discipleship, and great is the harvest.
How he gets it done, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, is fine with me. And of course, his priority should be God, family, and then church. As a layperson, I worked in the skilled trades, we were often required to work 48 to 50 hours a week. Just when is the pastor supposed to be able to raise and train up his children? To all pastors I appriecate the hard work and time you give to your ministrey.
Worship leaders’ jobs are to help with this exchange of voices, but not to interfere with it.
We can debate the finer points of if it is a tradtitional profession, or a calling, or something else altogether. The bottom line is that you all give and give and give, often with few avenues to receive. And as one who has been blessed by all that giving I thank you. You ask, how is he supposed to raise up and train his children?
Well, some of that will be delegated to his wife and but also, why not include the family on some of his duties and do ministry together? Kill two birds with one stone so to speak? Very interesting. I am curious how you tallied up the numbers. Did you select the highest number from each category? I have read the stream and have found that there is an element missing that seems very prevalent in my ministry. I am a vocational, full-time pastor of a single-staff me church. I have posted office hours.
Yes, as someone said above, they can be quite lonely. But that is when I am able to get my studying done. I am talking trying to get back to the task at hand. When someone stops in during my office hours and needs to talk, I spend the time talking to them. Then, it is time to return to my sermon. I simply can not get refocused on where I was for at least 30 minutes. Add anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour for each counseling session to recover and the hours of the week just start slipping away.
I have learned after 10 years of ministry to simply focus on the specific ministry in front of me right now, and trust God that all that He wants me to accomplish will be accomplished. I do almost legalistically protect my Mondays as Sabbaths unto the Lord, but beyond that, I just do whatever it is I need to do. I did track my time once over a 3-month period. I found that I averaged 55 — 60 hours per week during that time. And that is simply the ebb-and-flow nature of ministry. This has always been something that has effected me. I am a very people oriented person and if someone stops in the church office, which happen somewhat regularly here, sometime to see me and sometimes to see someone else, I can not just ignore them and continue studying.
To me this would be disrespectful and hurt with forming relationships so I take a few minutes to stop and say hi and the next thing I know I have been off track for minutes just stopping for 5. I live 30 minutes from the closest hospital and an hour from the normal hospital that our people go to. But then on the next moment our church board will be upset that I was not in the office during my office hours and someone called and complained. One thing I think this discussion overlooks is the assumption that American or possibly Western norms for work are the appropriate norms that we as the church should be following, whether we are pastors or laypeople.
Matthew , Psalm , and Hebrews immediately come to mind, aside from the scriptures that directly command you to observe the Sabbath. Pastors need to make getting rest the same priority that Scripture does. The deacons were probably not really thinking about what they were saying! I hope so, anyway. Extreme pressure is put on pastors everywhere in the world. Thank you for this post. Lots of food for thought. As helpmeet, we wives can help protect our husbands from excessive demands coming from church members.
Not sure if I should take this article seriously, or laugh at the sheer naivety of it all. To actually think there are a set number of appropriate hours a pastor should strive to fulfill, and stick to, to me is just beyond what it truly means to serve. What are we teaching future leaders in the church with this nonsense? Help me understand how service to the body of Christ is limited to a fixed number of hours. You cannot place a price tag or a numerical limit on the amount of service and leadership you give to your local church.
The answer to how many hours a pastor needs to spend providing for, guiding, loving, and nourishing his church is: whenever and however they need you. You sacrifice your time for them. How did we get this so wrong…. Pastors certainly should be working hard in ministry, suffering gladly, and giving freely. True, pastors are his servants and tools in that work, but we must always remember that he alone is the Savior and Head of the church. He is our Lord, and so we must serve diligently. But he is also our Savior, and that we means that we must entrust the needs of the church into his hands and regularly accept his gift of rest.
To do otherwise is not service, but pride. How exactly we strike that balance between trusting and obeying is another question. Measurements and targets can at times help us, and as Americans, we tend to like them. But I agree that there is genuine danger in getting so caught up in the numbers that we lose sight of our calling. At the end of the day, our Lord is perfectly capable of taking care of his church all by himself, but he has graciously given us the privilege of participating in his work. What a gift! Let us embrace it gladly and steward it wisely and well.
It can become a hindrance, in fact. In fact, your own long-term ministry potential might hinge on this more than you now know. If a Pastor was to live up to this obligation it would only leave 54 hours for family time, sleeping and the day to day necessities. We would only have 7 hours a day for what I just listed. There has been those weeks when there has simply not been enough hours in the week. I have also had those weeks where God sees me getting weary and lightens the load.
We must strive to honor God and remain faithful to the call. What complicates things more is that a pastor could log in 60 hours a week but still be lazy because he is not prioritizing, delegating, or working in a focused manner. Another pastor might get the same amount of work done in 45 hours. This must be for fully funded pastors. For those of us who are bi-vocational, the numbers are actually worse. We are working another job to support the family, and our spouse is most likely working too. And then we have the church stuff added on. Im not sure. I am currently a full time pastor. We do this by considering normal church functions as hours worked, dont think that is helpful.
Every other member of our congregation has worked all day and all week by the time they come to an evening meeting or weekend service. As pastors we should work hard, and I dont believe counting the hours on Wednesday night or sunday morning works. Put in hours mon-sat with a full day off. Prioritization of time is important, study, prayer and counseling shoud absorb most of our time. This article and these posts confirm for me that every pastor is different in his giftedness and every church is different in its needs.
In my case, I average between hours each week on sermon preparation alone. By contrast, I saw a post here where the fellow averages 1 hour per day on sermon prep! To them, having solid practical expositional messages expressed with great clarity at every service is a priority, so they cut me slack. The visitor will hear a solid message. No one knows how to preach like you! My own father was a bi-vocational minister.
I could never do that! In all the discussions, I think, not a lot of elaborations on the real role of a pastor in a church. Are they workers, leaders, counselors, trainers or???? When a pastor thinks he is a worker for a church, a demand of working 40 hr per week is reasonable; a leader then as many hours as needed to lead; an example to show how God lives in his life then is a whole life time — including how to take care of his own family.
How many hours should not be in the equation, how effective as a biblical pastor is the key and I believe that congregation knows! After reading this article, my question is, was there ever supposed to be one pastor per local church bearing the full load? I thought the Scriptures spoke more of a plurality of leaders, elders and deacons. A body with pastors, teachers, evangelists etc… I read this and found it challenging for the modern interpretation of how the church should function:.
If the local church had a functioning priesthood as opposed to the passive, spectator event that is the mark of most churches and an equally shared eldership, there simply would not be the urgency or necessity to hire someone on a full-time basis. This is because 1 leadership responsibilities would be shared; 2 one man and his gifts would not become the focal-point of the meeting; 3 corporate teaching would be shared and not left to one sole pastor; and 4 each member would actively participate and contribute to the meeting.
Should we reduce our calling in this life to the same terms as a job? I would think that we are called to a hour week of whatever is needed and wherever the Spirit leads. Whether I, or we, do it or not, is there any biblical grounds to reduce the Christian life and the part we play in the body to a job or set of hours? Thanks for giving me an exercise to do with my deacons. What do you think a realistic biblical breakdown of responsibility should be?
For instance I preach 3 different sermons a week. I will have hours a week easily on those three sermons, if not more. This gets very tiring especially with no help…. Personally, as a future pastor, I feel called to work very hard. Many members in my flock will work hours and rarely have a neat and tidy 40 hour week. I think there will be 70 hour weeks in ministry, but that must not be the norm. The harvest is plentiful, and the Lord is calling us to work it and to rest in his provision. None of us would be willing to work at our jobs for half that time, but we expect it of our pastors without a second thought.
No wonder pastors burn out and become disenfranchised so easily. The estimate of hours per week still seems low. Must be the summer slump! Like, for instance, being a mother. I am a stay at home mother, wife and homeschooler. My job never ends. My husband is a secondary principal at a private Christian school. His job rarely ends. He works a 50 hour work week AT his school but then does, at the very least, another 15 hours of work OFF campus. But my husband and I both feel called by the Lord to do the jobs we do. Our whole life, every second of every day, is to be used for one purpose, and one alone… to glorify our Lord.
So frankly… I think pastors, as well as laypeople, should work hours a week. I like your comment Rachel comparing the pastorate with the call of being a Mom. The job of being a Mom never ends unless you stop being one and you are a Mom hours per week, same way with Pastors, they never stop being Pastors so their work never ends. Thanks pastors for all the work you all do! I think a Pastor should work at least 20 hours per week.
The problem I see with most Pastors are that they are just unorganized and they blame lack of time on that. Most Pastors wing it, with weekly planning, sermon preparation, and calendar planning. This all makes for a church that will not grow. Thank you so much for posting this, Dr. I am a pastor of a small, rural church. I have recently had to request to return to a bivocational status because the church was not willing to financially support my family. My wife stays at home with our three children. Pastors are severly taken advantage of in the rural churches.
Well, he was. He always had a good handle on the number of hours he should be expected to work. And those parts CAN be handled by Lay people. I wonder, though, if some of your hours would be overlapping? And besides that, Administrative functions 18 hours a week? That seems a little too much time to me. Congregations are like children — they push the envelope, they want more, they ask for the world.