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How Many Hours Must a Pastor Work to Satisfy the Congregation?

How Many Hours Must a Pastor Work to Satisfy the Congregation?

I recently wrote a post based on a survey I did on a pastor's workweek. I also included better research and more accurate information from five-year old data from LifeWay Research.

In this post, I want to approach the issue from a slightly different perspective. I want to ask the question: How many hours must a pastor work each week to satisfy the congregation? Ultimately, I prefer to hear from pastors and church members and get their perspective.

An experiment I tried several years ago, though, might prove instructive. When I was a pastor in St. Petersburg, Florida, I gave a survey to the twelve deacons in the church (I jokingly said we had eleven good deacons and one Judas!). I listed several congregational responsibilities and asked them to share the minimum amount of time I should average in each area each week. I listed about twenty areas; but they were free to add other responsibilities to the blank lines.

I'm not sure exactly what I was anticipating. I just know that I was shocked when I tallied the results. In order to meet those twelve deacons minimum expectations I had to fulfill the following responsibilities each week:

  • Prayer at the church: 14 hours
  • Sermon preparation: 18 hours
  • Outreach and evangelism: 10 hours
  • Counseling: 10 hours
  • Hospital and home visits: 15 hours
  • Administrative functions: 18 hours
  • Community involvement: 5 hours
  • Denominational involvement: 5 hours
  • Church meetings: 5 hours
  • Worship services/preaching: 4 hours
  • Other: 10 hours

Total: 114 hours/week

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If I met just the minimum expectations of twelve deacons, I would have to work more than 16 hours a day for seven days a week. Or I could take one day off of work each week, and work 19 hours a day for six days a week. And remember, I still would only meet the minimum expectations of twelve people in the church, not the entire membership.

Clearly a pastor will sense the tension of so many factors competing for the limited hours in a week. And clearly no one can ever humanly meet all those expectations.

Do these numbers surprise you? If you are a layperson, what are your workweek expectations of a pastor? If you are a pastor, how do you handle such expectations?

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Dr. Thom Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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