My husband is a full-time pastor who serves a smaller to average-sized congregation. Our church also has a bi-vocational youth pastor. Beyond that, our other positions are volunteer-based.
A pastor, no matter the church size, has daily administrative tasks. Churches that are the size of ours many times do not have the budget for a church secretary or administrative assistant. So the pastor needs to manage his administrative duties. But first, you must differentiate between church expectation and what you personally need to do.
- Develop a list of “go-to” people who can, and are willing to, get things done.
- Prioritize and delegate. Decide what you must handle personally and what can be done by someone else. For example, can the Sunday school secretary order the literature? Can the Sunday school director or a deacon make the announcements so you can be free to focus on the spiritual part of the worship service? Can someone else make the Powerpoint slides for service? Can Lord’s Supper supplies be purchased by a deacon?
- After you have found people to do the delegated tasks, get yourself out of the “technician” mind-set and into “leader” mode. You cannot supervise others when you are overwhelmed with too many tasks. Assume a leadership role, and stay in contact with the volunteers so you know the tasks are being accomplished. Also, be sure to praise those who accomplish the work you delegated to them.
- Prioritize and schedule your own personal work. Bible study, finding illustrations, and sermon-writing take a good amount of time. When my husband was in seminary a professor told the class if you say you have a word from God, and you really don’t, you might be taking God’s name in vain. Proper preparation is vital. Here are some helpful steps:
- Pray for God’s guidance;
- Discover the needs of the church and community;
- Find a Bible passage that speaks to each need;
- Study the background of the selected passage;
- Outline your message;
- Find appropriate illustrations;
- Write and prepare the message;
- Pray again for God to use you and your work for His glory.
- Schedule time for visitation to prospects, shut-ins, those who are sick, and members.
Even with prioritizing and delegating, you need to be flexible and know there are going to be interruptions. Sometimes those interruptions come in the form of crises such as illness, death, funerals, or crisis counseling. These things do not check the pastor’s schedule before visiting your church. There will also be phone calls from members for various reasons, sometimes important, sometimes trivial, but they take your time. It is possible you will not get through your entire list during some weeks, especially when it comes to visitation. If that is the case, you may need to go back to point 2 and ask a deacon or church leader to make the initial visit. This person can then report back to you and let you know where your attention is truly needed.
It is also possible that no one will volunteer to do certain tasks. If that happens, then that particular task may need to go undone. Don’t add it to your to-do list solely because no one else in the church will get it done. If you start doing that, then the expectation will become that you will do it if no one else does; and before you know it, you will be seriously overwhelmed. So, prioritize, delegate, supervise, schedule, and prepare. Hopefully you will sleep well afterward.
Maleah Bell is a freelance editor and pastor’s wife. She and her husband make their home in Middle Tennessee.