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Pastors say tasks vary in effort, fulfillment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The number, variety and amount of time spent in pastoral duties varies widely among 1,400 pastors who responded to a random, detailed survey conducted recently by the Baptist Sunday School Board.
In the eight-part survey conducted by the board’s church leadership services division and administered by the pastor-staff leadership department, ministry demands most frequently listed by respondents from across the United States are administration, pastoral care and study.
Eighty percent of those surveyed indicated they consider their ministry primarily pastoral in contrast to slightly more than 15 percent who consider their ministry primarily evangelistic. Almost 23 percent reported having written a personal vision/mission statement.
As their greatest joy in ministry, pastors listed most often witnessing and seeing people saved, changed lives and growth and preaching. At the same time, their most-frequently cited frustrations in ministry are lack of vision and motivation in the church, lack of commitment by church members and lack of time.
While 22 percent of responding pastors conduct more than one service on Sunday mornings, most lead only one service. Virtually all pastors lead only one Sunday evening service and one Wednesday night service. Among other responsibilities, the highest number of responses in order of frequency were “how to” evangelistic training, Winter Bible Study, discipleship training, new member studies, Baptist Doctrine Studies, followed by Sunday school.
In the area of visitation and pastoral care, expectations most often listed are for hospital visitation, prospects and first-time worshipers, members with special needs, crisis intervention and nursing home visitation. Other responsibilities listed by some included members who want a social call from the pastor and door-to-door prospect visitation.
Sixty-six percent of the pastors indicated they spend between 6 and 30 percent of their time out of the office in hospital visits, home visits or outreach visitation. Of the previous 21 nights, 11 percent of the pastors had been away from their families after dinner for 10 nights on church ministry. Another 10 percent had been away 12 nights, while 7 percent more had been away 15 nights.
Counseling for weddings accounted for between one and 50 hours for each couple, with the most-often listed required time being three hours for each couple. Marriage counseling, spiritual questions, grief counseling and family counseling, in that order, followed. Other topics listed for counseling included career-job counseling, chemical dependency, psychological disorders, physical-sexual abuse, crisis pregnancy counseling and post-abortion counseling. In all categories, pastors indicated ongoing counseling situations of four or more sessions with the same individuals are required. Most often cited for several sessions is marriage counseling.
Pastors were almost equally divided in their self-assessment in being adequately equipped as a counselor for the needs they are asked to address.
Approximately 90 percent of pastors reported spending from one to 20 hours each week on administration, yet 46 percent of respondents indicated they do not consider administration to be one of their ministry gifts. Slightly more than half indicated they have regular weekly staff meetings, with most taking from one to three hours. More than 62 percent indicated they are the primary decision-maker in their churches. Committees, teams and councils were cited next, followed by the congregation and deacons.
More than 92 percent said they have a functioning committee structure, but 70 percent of the pastors indicated they do not attend all committee meetings. More than 65 percent described the effectiveness of committees in helping the church fulfill its mission as “moderately effective” and another group of almost 20 percent described their committees as “very effective.”
While the number of active deacons serving in a single church ranged between one and five to more than 50, the largest number of respondents indicated they have between six and 10 active deacons. Eighty-three percent of pastors said they have between one and 20 active deacons. Only 12 of 1,400 pastors said they have more than 50 active deacons.
Pastors overwhelmingly indicated they view the deacons’ primary role as servants and ministers, but at the same time said fewer deacons see their primary role as servants and more deacons than pastors view their role as business administrators and decision-makers.
Most frequently cited characteristics of deacons were caring, supportive, faithful, dedicated and committed.
In estimating the amount of time spent in specific duties, the highest numbers of pastors indicated spending 30 percent in study, up to 5 percent in counseling, up to 10 percent in administration and between 11 and 20 percent in pastoral visitation. Average number of hours worked each week ranged from 40 to more than 60 for full-time pastors. Most responses were in the 50- to 60-hour range. Bivocational pastors indicated they spend from 20 hours up to 50 or more hours in a secular vocation. Church vocation hours each week for bivocational pastors ranged from up to 10 hours to a high of 98. The majority of responses were in the 11- to 20-hour range.

    About the Author

  • Charles Willis