26 July 2014 - clay

What is an effective pastor?

time-management

Thom Rainer11. President and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources and a former pastor and seminary professor.  I picture he and Ed Stetzer as the Batman and Robin of the Southern Baptist Convention. posted an article yesterday on his Pastors Today site that I think deserves a little extra scrutiny. From the top, I want to say I agree with what he said, but I think that some might misconstrue the intentions behind some of his statements.

The article deals with the issue of how pastors spend their time. Having seen this lived out as both a staff member, volunteer, and church member, I think that this is an important issue. It cuts to the heart of how the church operates as an organization, but also to how the church views the role of clergy vs. laity.

First, a few details about the study for those who haven’t clicked through to the article. 101 pastors whose churches saw the most growth through new believers were surveyed about how they used their time during the week. A comparable number of pastors from churches who saw little conversion growth were asked the same questions. Dr. Rainer highlighted six things that stood out between the effective church leaders and the comparison church leaders.22. I’m using his terminology here, just to be consistent with his article. The effective church leaders were in the top five percent. I’ll let you figure out who the comparison group is.

Pastors of effective churches sleep slightly over six hours per day. Pastors of comparison churches sleep almost eight hours per day.

Honestly, this one doesn’t move me one way or the other. Some people need more sleep, some need less. I don’t believe that it shows that the church leaders are more effective because they sleep less. However, if people are very intentional about their time, the amount of time they spend sleeping may be less. Either way, it doesn’t effectively demonstrate anything.

Pastors of effective churches spend twenty-two hours in sermon preparation each week versus four hours for pastors of comparison churches.

I think this is an indicator of a well equipped laity. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the church is large enough to support multiple staff members as much as it shows the emphasis that the pastor puts on sermon preparation. It also may show why the churches have such a high rate of conversion growth. When the pastor puts that much time into sermon preparation then they most likely are highly focused and gospel-oriented.

The effective church leaders spent ten hours each week in pastoral care compared to thirty-three hours for the comparison group pastors. Pastoral care included counseling, hospital visits, weddings, and funerals.

Again, I believe this shows a church membership that is dedicated to being the church. Instead of leaning on the pastor to perform all the ministry of the church, they take it on themselves. This also shows a pastor who is willing to share in the ministry of the church rather than trying to be the face of everything that the church is involved in. They are called to preach and to lead, not to pick up the slack for everyone in the congregation.

Effective church leaders average five hours per week in sharing the gospel with others. Most of the comparison church pastors entered “0” for their weekly time in personal evangelism.

Wow. This is as big of an indictment as any of the others on this list. The pastor who spends time personally sharing the gospel is setting the example for the rest of the church. This is yet another reason why these churches have more conversion growth than the others.

Comparison church leaders spend eight hours a week – more than an hour each day – performing custodial duties at the church. The typical custodial duties included opening and closing the facilities, turning on and off the lights, and general cleaning of the building.

When the pastor is being called on to be the custodian of the church, there’s a problem. This is not something that a large church with a janitorial staff solves. The care and upkeep of the facilities should be the responsibility of everyone, not just the staff.

Leaders of effective churches average 22 hours a week in family activities. The comparison church leaders weren’t too far behind with 18 hours of family time each week.

Like the hours spent sleeping, I don’t think this is much of an indicator either way. Though if the effective church leaders aren’t spending all their extra time cleaning the church, they’ll have more time for family activities.

So, there you have it. Where do you think your church would fall in this list? How can you help out your pastor to give him more time for sermon preparation or family time?

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. 1. President and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources and a former pastor and seminary professor.  I picture he and Ed Stetzer as the Batman and Robin of the Southern Baptist Convention.
2. 2. I’m using his terminology here, just to be consistent with his article. The effective church leaders were in the top five percent. I’ll let you figure out who the comparison group is.

Church

this site uses the awesome footnotes Plugin