This is a ” tongue-in-cheek” list of pastoral duties and character qualities intended to emphasize the huge load carried by many men and women in ministry from across the spectrum of denominations, venues and locations. Hats off to my colleagues who faithfully serve through the ups and downs of ministry life. Obviously some of these points are a bit exaggerated. Reactions are welcome.
1. Preach at least forty-eight Sundays per year. Sermons must regularly touch both the long-standing Christian and the novice. Preaching must always have an evangelistic emphasis and end with an invitation.
2. Monitor and approve all music related to the worship service.
3. Lead worship as needed.
4. Officiate at communion.
5. Meet regularly with the church governing board.
6. Teach a weekly Bible study that is both challenging and practical and yet not controversial.
7. Oversee all church staff. Consult with the board and other key leaders in significant matters relating to church staff.
8. Assure the vitality and growth of the Christian education program.
9. Oversee the development of a relevant and aggressive youth program.
10. Work with families in crisis.
11. Serve as an ex officio member of all boards and committees.
12. Faithfully visit church elderly and shut-ins.
13. Enthusiastically lead the church in missions awareness and participation.
14. Teach effectively and regularly on financial giving.
15. Lead in the formulation and implementation of visionary church goals, while guarding against trendy, worldly or unrealistic ideas.
16. Conduct funeral services for members of the church, their family and close friends as requested. The pastor will contact the bereaved as soon as possible and meet with them prior to the service to finalize arrangements.
17. Conduct weddings, child dedications, baptisms, etc. as requested by church members and their extended networks.
18. Help in the recruitment of board members and other church leaders. The pastor will also train the key leaders of the church in their tasks and regularly motivate them to fulfill their duties faithfully and cheerfully. He is to be an unswerving supporter of the board.
19. Be present at all significant church functions (the pastor is responsible for knowing which functions are significant and which are not).
20. Visit members in the hospital and provide information concerning the status of any member, their extended families or close friends who may be ill.
21. Have a list of potential outside contacts to invite to church as well as a list of potential members among those who have recently visited.
22. Encourage participation in community events which are compatible with the church’s ministry and doctrinal position. Be aware of events which are not in line with church positions.
23. Be an acknowledged Bible scholar, and yet preach and teach simply and straightforwardly with only occasional references to biblical languages and ancient culture.
24. Publish and keep regular office hours, while at the same time maintaining the flexibility to respond at a moment’s notice to crises (real or perceived).
25. Present vacation plans for board approval at least three months in advance.
26. Cheerfully accept almost any annual salary package offered by the budget committee.
27. Effectively raise funds for church projects.
28. Actively participate in church building projects and work days. The pastor must encourage his or her family to do so as well.
29. The pastor must not become discouraged by low attendance at services on the part of the congregation.
30. Be prepared to cancel or rearrange days off as the needs of the flock may dictate.
31. Maintain an exemplary Christian family life.
32. The pastor must never defend himself or his family against criticism or attack, but must prayerfully consider whether any part of the criticism may be valid.
33. Maintain a lifestyle which appears to be modestly affluent, while modeling frugal living for the congregation.
34. Wear the skin of a rhinoceros when it comes to personal attack, but cultivate sensitivity to the beliefs and feelings of others.
This only slightly exaggerated list is actually a fairly accurate description of pastoral life in many small to medium-sized congregations and parachurch ministries in North America. Some would describe it as a recipe for a premature death certificate. What do you think?
* This list contains some ideas from Rest in the Storm: Self care Strategies for Clergy and other Caregivers.