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What Are Pastors Doing During the Week? 10 Things...

Updated: Mar 20

I often get a lot of questions about how I spend my time as a Pastor. People are understandably curious about what I do. Some people are even surprised to hear that I work more than one day per week!

  • But, the truth is that most of a pastor's work is unseen by the large majority of his congregation, which raises legitimate questions like...

    • "What do pastors do during the week?"

    • "How do they spend their time?"

The New Testament gives the Church three titles for pastors, each one highlighting a different element of their work. Those titles are, in order of frequency, Elder (60+), Overseer (5), and Pastor (1).

  • In efforts to help shed some light of how we pastors spend our time, I've put together this list that highlights what we do, and how it fits into each of those three titles.

What Pastors Do...

1 - The Ministry of the Word. (Acts 7; 1 Tim 4; Eph. 4)

Pastors are responsible for leading and instructing the people of God in the Word of God. In fact, this is the primary and most essential pastoral duty. In Ephesians 4, Paul calls Pastors "Shepherd-teachers," which is the meaning of the title, "Pastor." This represents the bulk of pastoral work. We pastors fulfill this ministry calling in a variety of ways on weekly basis including: Preaching, teaching, pastoral counseling, visitation, equipping others, weddings, funerals, and more.

Pastors are shepherds for God's people who carryout their by teaching the Word of God.

2 - The Ministry of Prayer. (Acts 7; 1 Thess. 4)

Alongside the ministry of the Word of God, pastors are called to the ministry of prayer. Pastors are to spend time before the Lord, praying for their people, the situations of their peoples' lives, and more. In addition, Pastors spend lots of time around prayer, meaning they spend time physically praying with others, teaching on prayer in the life of the Church, and demonstrating faithful prayer in front of their people.

3 - The Ministry of Counseling. (Isa. 50:4; Psalm 23; Eph. 4:15; Heb. 5:2-3)

"Pastor, you are a counselor," writes David Powlison. Many times throughout their week, pastors sit with members of their congregations, listening to their struggles, the details of the lives, listening to their hopes and dreams, along with those things that never came to pass. Pastors mourn with the hurting, weep with the distraught, celebrate with the joyous, and sit silently with the melancholy. On a weekly basis, Pastors enter the real situations of their members' lives; their marriages, their families, jobs, sicknesses, and death. This particular area of ministry demands lots of time, lots of patience, a listening ear, and ready-to-use knowledge of God's Word.

4 - The Ministry of Discipleship and Admonition (1 Cor. 11:1; Heb. 11:7)

The New Testament Church is commanded to observe the lives of their pastors, and in so doing, learn to follow Jesus. Pastors are to be the lead disciple-makers in their churches. This means time must be spent with people, new Christians, growing Christians, old Christians. Discipleship takes time, effort, energy, and practice. It means that pastors are watching their people and keeping track of what goes on in their lives. Discipleship means wading into all of life's situations, into the details, for the purpose of applying Christ to all of life.

Pastors also spend a lot of time thinking and planning how to disciple the entire Church; designing programs and seeing to it that they are carried out. Pastors plan and think through strategies for how to lead the Church in discipleship. At times, this means leadership and oversight of things like Sunday School or small groups, various other small group Bible studies, the raising and developing of other leaders in the Church, and more.

Pastors take their cues in this area from Jesus Himself Who called men to Himself, trained them, and sent them out. Our Lord spent time discipling, and pastors do the same.

5 - The Ministry of Mission and Oversight.

The Proverbs teach us that "Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint [or, are discouraged], but blessed is he who keeps the law."

While there is much today about Pastoral Leadership, much that I do not subscribe to, it remains true nonetheless that Pastors are leaders of their flocks. They step out in front of their people, pointing the way and leading by example; they stand behind their people, guarding the flock and urging them forward. They lead their people by constantly keeping Christ and His kingdom before them, urging them to keep the main thing the main thing.

Pastoral ministry is not primarily leadership, but it is not less than leadership.

6 - The Ministry of Mercy.

Pastors spend lots of time with hurting, worried, anxious, sick, and dying people. Sometimes these visits are planned, and sometimes they aren't. Pastors must always come into such situations bearing the mercy and hope of Jesus Christ. It is our Lord Jesus Who meets us those moments of hardship, and His pastors are those specially appointed undershepherds who come ministering Christ's mercy to hurting people.

Pastors often see the sick and hurting, sit with people in their hospital rooms, visit with shut-ins and those in the winter of life, pastors counsel with those in hospice care, and are quietly present with saints as they die.

This picture hangs in my pastoral study reminding me of my calling to be with people in their difficult moments, bringing the quiet, helpful mercy of our Lord.

7 - The Ministry of Warning and Correcting.

Pastors are, in the storyline of Scripture, shepherds over the people God. God gives His people shepherds to feed and guide them, but also to warn and correct them. Paul notes that in our preaching and teaching, pastors are to warn everyone against sin and disobedience (Col. 1:27-29), to speak up and out against sinful choices in their people's lives, and to bring correction when the sheep go astray.

In Philippians 4, the Apostle Paul urges two women, who have been at odds with one another, to put aside their issues and agree in the Lord. Much of a pastor's work has to do with managing and working through interpersonal conflict with members of the Church. People are sinful, and sinful people sin against each other. But, by God's grace, we have all that we need in Christ to properly deal with our sin. And Pastors are given to churches to help Christians learn how to handle conflict properly.

This area of ministry often gets Pastors into hot water because no one wants to be confronted and corrected, but this is a valuable ministry of the pastor and it is for good of every member of the Church. After all, would churches rather have passive shepherds who are too scared to act when action is needed, or courageous leaders who are willing to step into the fray when called upon to help?

8 - The Ministry of Guarding and Protecting.

As shepherds, pastors are called upon to keep a close watch over their sheep, and to guard them when predators seek to cause harm. In Titus, Paul instructs pastors to rid churches of false teachers because of the damage they can cause. In Acts 20, the Ephesian Elders are warned that fierce wolves will always be coming in, seeking to devour the flock of God. Pastors must stand ready tp put themselves between the wolves and the sheep.

This means that pastors spend time guarding the sheep by guarding the teaching ministry of the Church (1 Tim. 4:16), they are paying attention to what their sheep are listening to and reading, they are speaking out against false teachers in the public arena, and more.

And much of this take place out of the view of the Church. Pastors deal with a lot of conflict and struggle out of the view of the Church, protecting her from harmful situations and divisive people (3 John).

Pastors guard their flock.

9 - The Ministry of Management and Oversight.

While I would argue that everything before is more important than this one, management tends to take up a lot of time for pastors. Too many pastors allow themselves to be pulled into numerous meetings and busied with the work of planning and management. It's true that pastors bear the responsibility to oversee the work and ministry of the Church, and this is includes the planning and running of various weekly/monthly ministries, the planning of worship services, the making and maintenance of a Church budget, and more.

For most pastors, this type of organizational leadership demands some of their time each and every day. And while this work is not the most pressing, it is essential pastoral work.

10 - The Ministry of Personal Care.

Finally, it is important that, given the load of everything else, that pastors do the work of caring for themselves. This means pastors should be regularly feeding themselves the Word of God and spending private time with God for the sake of our own souls. A pastor should be given plenty of time and freedom to be with his family, to love and romance his wife (if he's married), and to be there for his children (if he has them).

Many pastors seek personal growth through studying at their local seminary, or by attending trainings in their area. Churches should both celebrate their pastor's desire to learn and grow, and provide him both time and financial resources (as they are available) to do so.

This also means that pastors should care for their bodies by eating well, getting a good night's sleep, exercising regularly, and more. He must care for his body so that he is physically able to accomplish his shepherding duties for his church. It is of no benefit to a church if a pastor is too unhealthy (due to his own poor choices) to carry out his duties. It is to a church's benefit, then, to provide their pastor(s) with time to exercise, and maybe even to purchase a gym membership for him.

Being a pastor is no excuse for a poor home life or spiritual life, nor is it an excuse for an unhealthy lifestyle.

Like most people, pastors are busy, and while this list is not exhaustive, it hopefully provides you with some insight into exactly what pastors are doing on a weekly basis...

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