I have heard people say “The pastor has it so easy; he doesn’t have to go to work. What does he do all day? All he has to do is write a few sermons a week.” So, the following few questions are aimed at setting the record straight. What does a day in your life as a pastor look like?
It’s not routine. I like that it’s it’s different all the time. For example this week I spent 30 hours painting the church. There’s counseling, church council meetings, staff meetings. I do maintenance there’s no full-time janitor here so I do the dump runs.
The apostle Paul said he worked harder than all so as not to be a burden to the church. To be a part of the body is to serve and I should be the first to do this.-Pastor Bruce Hanlon, Forrestdale Baptist Church, Forrestdale MA
There is no way of quantifying the day in any particular structure. It is such a fluid situation. Some days I can take the day and press through my studies without interruption. Most days, however, it never happens so easy. As the pastor of a small church, I am called upon by my congregation for everything from marital counseling to plumbing. It’s not a 40-hour/week situation. Much of my time in the evenings is taken up by meetings, planning sessions, hospital visits, seminars, conferences, emergencies. I teach multiple Bible studies as well as services on Sunday. So a “day-in-the-life” of this pastor is often different every day. For instance, yesterday I spent several hours in the morning with a church member and then returned home to study. Today, I spent my morning studying, counseling, working on this questionnaire, and tonight I will be out of town with another member of my church. I’m usually up by 6:30am to have morning coffee and devotions with my wife before she goes off to work (she’s a school teacher) and I’m finally in bed around 1am. Besides all that, I am also a published author and am working on several other manuscripts. –Pastor Michael Duncan Author, Speaker, Pastor. Mountain View Baptist Church, Darrington WA
I wake up at 4 AM, spend 1-2 hours in private devotions (Bible reading, prayer, meditation). After breakfast and family worship (Bible reading, prayer, singing), I get to the office between 8 and 9 AM. Unless I go out for an appointment, visit, or counseling, I am at my desk working until I leave for home at 4:30. My work involves studying for my weekly sermons and teachings as well as my bi-weekly and monthly teachings; writing sermons, sermon outlines for the congregation, and Sunday School or Bible Study lessons for the people to use as I teach, responding to and sending emails; answering the church phone; calling on people in the church in need of various kinds of ministry; pursuing outreach and evangelism opportunities; and, when I can make the time, working on my writing projects (I’m researching for my 4th book now). Also, by God’s grace, I just completed my doctorate, graduating with a Doctor of Divinity degree in Puritan Studies. -Pastor James Labelle, author, Pastor, Presbyterian Church of Cape Cod
No two days are alike. Besides the obvious personal responsibilities and time set aside for message preparation, personal prayer, etc., there are numerous other things that can arise at any moment.
Some days the phone rings constantly with calls from people requesting advice, counselling, prayer, and on occasion help in an emergency situation.
Then there are many other things will that occur on various days of the month. Involvement in community affairs. Fellowship meetings with other ministers. Home visitations, checking in on people in the hospital, nursing home, etc.. -Pastor, Transformation Ministries
Pastoring is more than preaching. Pastors have to care for people; it’s meeting whatever needs you can: visits, counseling, praying for deliverance, work crews to fix houses. Training people for ministry- my job is to work myself out of a job. -Pastor Greg Winslow, Missionary to Zihuatanejo, Mexico
On average how much time does it take you to put together a sermon, including research, study, etc.?
On average, it takes about 20 – 30 hours a week. –Pastor Michael Duncan
4-5 hours, but it’s never really finished until it’s preached.-Pastor Roger Williams, Victory Chapel CFM, Cape Cod
5-6 hours when I was younger, now it takes days, I go back and proof and add things. The burden of needs and to be an oracle for God is a tremendous responsibility. I need Him to show me needs and speak what He wants me to say. I need a burning ember, the rhema of God. It takes travail for that. -Pastor Paul Campo, Victory Chapel CFM, Cape Cod MA
15-20 hours a week. It’s all interconnected, reading, praying, reading my Bible. I’m always thinking this would be a good sermon, or minister to this person and then I will pray for them right then. – Pastor Bruce Hanlon
The average sermon usually takes me 12-15 hours, initially, to prepare. But when I revisit it on Saturday (since I usually finish it on Tuesday), I will spend another 4-5 hours working and praying through it on Saturday and Sunday morning before preaching it. –Pastor James La Belle
5 minutes – 7 days! – Pastor Greg Winslow
I am answering this question as a pastor’s wife. We have been pastoring for 15 years. He is currently a working pastor because the church cannot afford his salary. I’ve witnessed many times my husband on his knees crying out to God for souls. There have been countless nights that I woken up at three in the morning and my husband is not in bed because he is praying. We have learned as a family to give him quiet time when he is writing sermons usually Tuesdays and Thursday nights. I have seen him searching the computer for illustrations, digging through commentaries, searching the Scriptures as he puts together a sermon. I have seen him spend an average of 3-5 hours on one sermon. Sometimes he’ll leave in the middle of one to go for a walk, or drive or simply to pray. Because we have three church services a week, between preaching, praying, and sermon writing my husband spends a little over 20 hours a week just on sermons alone. Never mind the countless hours of his own Bible reading and praying before God, phone calls, and Counseling sessions.
My father-in-law and brother-in-law granted us a large sum of money to buy a home. Overwhelmed by their generosity, my husband and I asked why are you doing this? To which they replied, “We have seen your sacrifices.” I burst out crying because even when others don’t see our sacrifices, God does, and it’s in those moments that He uses others to let us know. So when someone thinks we’re just sitting around the house all day because all we do is pastor a church,I leave it in God’s hands. –Ruthanne Laine, Pastor’s Wife, Victory chapel, Dover NH
Quite honestly, I don’t think it would be possible to provide an average time. Each message is different. Some fall into place in a matter of hours. Others can take days or weeks to prepare. There have been times I’ve spent 4 or 5 days preparing a message, then the night before the service I’ll reread my notes and realize it’s lacking something. On many occasions I’ve stayed up nearly all night on a Saturday reworking a message for that very reason. -Pastor, Transformation Ministries
As a pastor, it usually took about 40 hours per week of prep time. I had three sermons per week to prepare, plus funeral, wedding, and special event messages. -George W. Nichols, Ph.D., Pastor, missions worker, author, artist
How much time do you spend in personal Bible study, prayer, reading, a day?
I always tried to spend at least 10% of my waking hours in personal study and prayer. Now I spend about about the same, 3 hours per day. -Dr. George W. Nichols, Ph.D.
It often depends on the day. But, on average, it’s about 3-5 hours a day. –Pastor Michael Duncan
3 hrs. -Pastor Roger Williams
About an hour and a half. -Pastor Greg Winslow
Prayer, at least an hour of concentrated time. But also throughout the day I am constantly talking with the Lord or praying in tongues.
Bible study, other than what is required for message preparation also varies. But I do spend at least 2 hours in the Word daily
Then there’s something I started doing a couple years ago that’s been very beneficial. Listening to the Bible on DVD while I’m sleeping. It helps me to enjoy a peaceful night’s rest and wake up feeling spiritually energized. -Pastor, Transformation Ministries
What are some duties you perform for the church on a regular basis that your congregation may not be aware of?
Perhaps the simple things, such as making sure the tables are all set up for fellowship meals or making sure the heat is on in the building go unnoticed. But, what does that matter? I don’t serve to get noticed but to make Jesus known. –Pastor Michael Duncan
Cleaning . nursery duties. Help with books and paying bills. Overseeing things, making sure people have what they need. -Lori Ganiear
It is varied. This week, I need to correspond with a lawyer in terms of setting up structure of how our church functions with planting churches. -Pastor Chip Ganiear, Victory chapel CFM, Cape Cod
Fixing electrical equipment, setting up before concerts, events. Visiting the hospital. –Pastor Roger Williams
Administration duties, prep, cooking for special events. It takes us four days to set everything up so it’s taken care of before we go out of town. everything has to be planned in advance. –Pastor Paul Campo
What are some things your church could do to lighten your load or refresh you and your family, so you can better serve God and them?
My church is so supportive of me and my family. I am grateful to the Lord for their care and love. I think it would help if I had an associate pastor to help with the ministry; and I pray that the Lord will provide him when I’m ready. -Pastor La Belle
Be a part of the church. for example, hospitality teams. I’m not spending hours setting up and cleaning up after an event. Everybody needs to be involved. -Anonymous
What would refresh me is involvement. When the church begins to function as the LORD purposes, there is not load too heavy or burden so great that it cannot be borne by all. I want to see participation – share the love of Christ, attend the services on a regular basis, connect with someone new and tell them the good news of Jesus. I would be most encouraged when I see a member of the church bringing others to faith in Christ. –Pastor Michael Duncan
Be present. Have a willingness to serve, bring new people to church. When everyone works together like an orchestra, we get a lot more done. -Pastor Paul Campo
Help follow up, help outreach. -Pastor Raul and Stephanie Delcid
What is the hardest part of being a pastor?
When people don’t grasp the destiny and potential they can have if they stay serving God. -Pastor Raul and Stephanie Delcid
What is your biggest challenge pastoring?
Getting people to catch the vision. -Pastor Raul and Stephanie Delcid
To get ahold of God and get a vision for this last generation. trying to become all God wants me to be personally. You need to have discipline and inspiration and the hand of God if you are going to make it as a pastor, or are you going to come up empty and reach burn out. You must have a heart for the people and for the ministry because you’re certainly not in it for the money. –Pastor Roger Williams
What kind of challenges do you face raising Preacher’s Kids?
The fish bowl. Your kids are expected to be to be perfect, they are not allowed to fail and succeed. How much is too much and how much is not enough? How much do you force on your children/let them make their own decisions? -Pastor Bruce and Sarah Hanlon
What has been the most unexpected benefit to pastoring?
The depths of extraordinary sorrow and the heights of remarkable joy, these have been unexpected benefits. –Pastor Michael Duncan
Learning from others. Sometimes even the youngest of Christians have spoken such profound wisdom that it makes me wonder why I hadn’t thought about or considered those things before. It’s a blessing being around people whose hearts are aflame with passion for the Lord and His Word. I can’t begin to express the gratitude I feel for how being around God’s people has enriched my life. It’s given me the ability to look beyond my own little world and forced me to consider others in a whole new light.-Pastor, Transformation Ministries
What has been the most unexpected hardship to Pastoring?
Violations from people who we gave everything to and for. -Pastor Raul and Stephanie Delcid
What is your favorite memory of pastoring?
The thing that stands out is when things didn’t work out pioneering a new church.We were moving back to a church I was unfamiliar with to a new state. My brain was short circuiting. I was beside myself with all the upheaval. I remember going down by the river, a spot I’d go to sometimes to pray and just throwing it all out there at God. And somehow God just grabbed the reins of my mind and emotions and showed me He was right there with me. God told me that this was right where I needed to be. “It’s not over, it’s just the next step. I’ve got you covered.” It’s one of these reference points where God just says, “Calm down; I’ve got this.” -Pastor Chip Ganiear
Seeing the people “get it.” My greatest joy is seeing the people meet Jesus in the preaching of His Word. They come to church hungry, and when they get filled by the preaching of the Word, my heart is overjoyed. -Pastor James Labelle
Perhaps my favorite memory (and there are so many) is when a young man came up to me and told me that he was going to speak the truth in court because of what he heard me preach. He trusted the LORD that day and repented of his crimes, and then threw himself into the merciful arms of Jesus—trusting that only by telling the truth would God intervene in his situation. –Pastor Michael Duncan
What is the funniest or craziest encounter, situation you’ve experienced during your ministry that you are free to share?
We were having revival and the Spirit was moving tremendously. People were getting healed instantly and the whole church was abounding with joy and praise. All of a sudden it felt like the floor of the church was floating. Many of the members thought it was a move of the Holy Ghost. I discovered the next day while watching the news, an earth tremor had affected our area the night before. -Pastor, Transformation Ministries
When a man came into my office, set his gun down and told me that he was going to kill every pastor he meets. After talking with him for some time, we prayed together and he, in tearful repentance, walked out of my office and promised to return home and seek the help of Godly men in his community. –Pastor Michael Duncan
© 2016 Rachael M Colby
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