Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What does a Pastor do all day?

After I blogged about my husband going full-time as pastor and dissolving his fire alarm business, I received the following comment:

I have watched many of your husband's sermons and especially liked the one on hard work and how men were made work every day. I've always admired pastors who have work outside of their ministry. I am surprised that Pastor Anderson has given up his business! What does he do to keep busy now? I guess I've never really understood what pastors do outside of writing and delivering sermons.

I venture to guess that this reader is not the only person who has ever wondered what pastors do with all that free time they must have when they are not preaching, so I thought I would write a post to answer that question.

First, let's look at the "writing and delivering sermons" part. It doesn't sound like much, does it? But who here really has experience what it's like getting up three times a week, for 1 hour or more, delivering a speech? (The one hour is just the preaching part. The services are longer than that.) The pastor is not just up there doing a filibuster, reading off a pre-made script just to kill time. In order for him to monologue, with content, truth, authority, and knowledge, much study and preparations must go just into the "writing sermons" part. In fact, just to give you an idea, our church has many "preaching classes" for young men desiring to go into the ministry. If they wish to preach a sermon in the class, it must be about 10 minutes long. It takes these young men literally HOURS to put together a coherent, well-thought out, biblically sound sermon of 10 minutes length. If you don't believe me on this part, try doing it yourself some time, and then preach it to others and time yourself. How much more doing it for 3 hours, every week, always teaching and not sounding like a broken record? Politicians employ people whose whole job is to do nothing but write speeches, and what they come up with is not even nearly as intelligent as my husband's worst sermon.

As for "delivering sermons," again, the reality is a little bit more laborious than that might sound. The Pastor does not just blow into church moments before the service starts, and leaves as soon as it is over. My husband gets there early to straighten and clean the building (which it always needs right before a service, no matter how often it has been done during the week), greet members and visitors, etc. In addition, my husband teaches a Spanish class on Sunday mornings, for which he writes the curriculum himself (again, more work). 

After the service, our family stays for at least an hour every single time, answering questions, fellowshipping, and just generally caring for the "flock." There often are visitors who came from far away, just to meet the pastor in person, so we spend some time with them, or may even take them out for lunch. Sundays are the hardest day of the week for the Pastor and his family, hands down. It is a 12-hour work day no matter how you slice it. 

This does not stop once Monday rolls around. With over 100 members in our church, at least one of them is calling us every single day with an issue or problem they are facing, which we then address/assist as needed. Just because we do not publicly relate all the personal details of people's lives, does not mean these things aren't happening. In many ways, it's like being a parent - somebody is always needing your attention. Someone with no children would never understand how much of your time that could possibly take up.

Then of course there is soul-winning. My husband spends many hours each week going door-to-door. In addition, much time is spent printing, cutting, and folding invitations, as well as planning which areas to knock doors in next, keep records, follow up, etc.

Many, many more hours are spent on study and learning. This could be reading and memorizing the Bible, which is crucial for those who want to write sermons that use more than one little snippet of a verse plus a lot of fluff. This could also be practicing the piano or another musical instrument, another critical skill to have when called upon to fill in as the pianist in a pinch. If playing the piano were so easy, everyone would be doing it. It takes much patience and practice to become good enough at it to play in church for a congregation.

Then, there is the administrative aspect of running a church. We deal with everything from doing the banking, to dealing with the stacks of mail every day, to record-keeping required by law, to phone and email inquiries, making the bulletin each week, etc. My husband receives literally hundreds of emails every single day, far more than he could ever hope to respond to. We purchase all the supplies necessary for church, which is basically everything you see from hymnals to toilet paper. Just keeping everything in stock can take a couple of hours per week of shopping. I know, because I used to be the one doing it.

The constant cleaning of the building alone takes hours each week. This is not taking into account that we have some special activity going on at our church on a weekly basis. This could be a wedding, baby shower, chili cook-off, church picnic, homeschool field trip... you name it, we have something going on every week. Events such as that pretty much take up our entire family's whole day that day, but sometimes as much as three full days (such as setting up and preparing for a wedding, and then cleaning up the aftermath). 

Of course, our church also has a major internet presence, which is likely how the person who originally posted the question came to find out about us. Well, building such an internet presence takes a lot of time. Not only do the various websites need constant attention, but many hours each week are spent converting files and uploading the sermons, outtakes, etc. Again, there are people whose whole job consists of nothing but doing that. 

As if all this is not enough, my husband is at this time also working about 8 hours per day on another documentary exposing false Bible versions. Last year, he spent months working on "After the Tribulation," which has been viewed by millions and really shaken the once-popular, but false pre-trib position. When he was finished with that, he worked on the 22-hour Revelation series.

I could go on and on, but I am getting tired just writing all this. My husband works about 60 hours per week on average, down from 80 to 90 while he also ran his business. He used to do much of his sermon preparation, study, and other similar aspects of pastoring from the road while driving for business, but I am very thankful that he has reduced his stress level to something more sustainable. At the moment, he is not being paid by church as he continues to collect payments from his fire alarm clients, but will start taking a full-time salary from church once he formally dissolves his business.

From the question, it almost sounds as if pastoring alone is not a full-time job, and certainly not one worthy of a salary. Even when my husband had his business, he always resented people having an attitude toward their own pastor that he was "just" a pastor, and did not also have a "real" job. The Bible is very clear on the fact that being a pastor IS a job in and of itself. The only apostles/evangelists the Bible records as not receiving a salary from their sending church (though it makes it clear that they had every right to, if they chose to) were single men. Not married fathers of many pastoring a great church in their spare time when they were not tied up providing for their families.
Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. (1Co 9:14)

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. (1Ti 5:17-18)

The word "honour" in the above verse is referring to financial compensation, or as it used to be called, an honorarium. It then likens preaching to an ox treading out the corn, which no doubt is a very physically taxing job. Preaching, or any public speaking for that matter, is incredibly exhausting, both mentally and physically. On Sunday nights, my husband gets home from church and pretty much collapses into bed without delay.

Pastoring is like parenting - much harder and more time consuming than anyone who has never done it could ever imagine. It involves the whole family, on a level that I will not even go into here, because I am thankful for my husband's ministry and the opportunity to serve God. As with parenting, the rewards are also much greater than we can imagine. 

Saying, "what does it really entail besides writing and delivering sermons" is like asking a mom what parenting involves besides feeding and clothing the kids. 

If you have a good church and a godly pastor that you love, thank God for them, and look for ways to build up, help, and support your pastor and his family. No, they are not perfect, but they love you, and they love serving the Lord. They do a job that is much harder than it may look, which may explain why good churches and sound preaching are getting harder and harder to come by. 

I hope this answers the question as it was asked, as well as questions of those who haven't asked, but wondered.

10 comments:

  1. Ma'am, I have been praying to God about Pastor Anderson, about you Mrs. Anderson and all your lovely children , all your children of a true blessing from the LORD. How may I write in words what my heart can not write. Ma'am, always I give all the glory to GOD in every thing (all)! I believe the Lord directed me to Pastor Anderson and you of your blogs, and especially to Faithful Word Baptist Church website. I written you about a 2 or so months ago of briefly of the difficulty of real/ true preaching / teaching in area I live. I keep on searching/ and going to several of church / and still have not found a local church. I will continue to search, to tell the truth , there is no one, I am saying honestly , no one as of Pastor Anderson whom gives his all for the Lord , giving GOD all the glory!! Forgive me I am not able to really write fully what is within the depth of my soul. I pray you understand where I am coming from. First of all I am anonymous because I give all the glory to God , it has nothing to do with me. As in the Word of God ; verse 30 of John 3'' HE must increase, I shall decrease.''' The WORD of GOD explains it all. I have much to learn, way lots. I know that I need the LORD every day; meditate on HIS WORD day and night'' Joshua 8. I delight every day/ night after school, and duties/ etc. reading/ studying HIS Word. And working on memorization. I give thanks to GOD every day for Pastor Anderson/ for you Mrs. Anderson. Being real, being truthful and honestly really having true love for the lost souls and so much more! I just written little of me, as I said it is not about me. My question is about from my heart freely ''giving of money to Pastor Anderson and you Mrs. Anderson/ family. As often as the Lord gives me to give. What words could express the true thankfulness of what all Pastor Anderson does, and you Mrs. Anderson. I can not express how I deeply appreciate all the time Pastor Anderson takes to tape all the sermons of the Word of GOD/ to GOD be all the glory!!!! My words may mean nothing, I pray you understand them. If and when you do answer my question, I did send you my email in another note I written you awhile back, please let me know (where, what address to send to. Numbers 6:24-26''The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
    The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
    The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace."....
    In the Name of Jesus Christ, ..... love / blessings rosita

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  2. Very well put! I did not know Pastor Anderson went full time. Praise the Lord!

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  3. Pastors are as unappreciated as stay at home moms! I always get the typical "what do you do all day?!" I homeschool my children, have a relationship with God and my husband, do myriads of chores and other various projects for the church and community. Not to mention everything else that life brings. Just because our jobs are not seen with a time clock and a pay stub, we work very, very hard. God bless! Our family very much enjoys the sermons and dedication to the truth. Obviously there is a great woman and family behind Pastor Anderson.

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  4. As a PK (preachers kid) myself, I can attest how hard they work. Sunday is not a day off. And really the entire family is part of the preacher package. the entire PK family works of accord!

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  5. I love how your haters are wondering how a church your size could possible support your family.
    Our church has about 100 members tops and we are able to fully support our pastor and his family just nicely. On top of that we support 15 missionaries as well. It's called tithe and faith promise. We trust the Lord to provide our needs and in turn we give to provide for the needs of others.

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  6. As a pastor's wife, I agree with everything you wrote! My husband is bi-vocational and can't wait until our 2 yr old baby church plant can pay him a full time salary! The poor man is always exhausted from working a full time job in order to support his family without welfare, while at the same time putting in the time and effort that the church needs. Praise the Lord yours is going full time! Our time will come...until then....exhaustion reigns!

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  7. Hope your family get more supports for serving god in full time to glorify him!

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  8. I do not write to disparage you, but I am having difficulty accepting some points and even understanding others. Does your husband's average sermon really last an hour? I have never been to a service where the preaching was an hour. Even in long services of two hours the preaching is only 35-40 minutes. Your claim is that your husband delivers 3 separate and unique sermons reach week and each is one hour of preaching. Don't exaggerate to make a point. Just advice. On this subject also you claim that he used to work 80-90 per week. I am too familiar with what this requires and especially beyond just a short term. This requires minimum of 12-13 hours per day 7 days a week always. Do you stand by this. It is a disparaging claim toward his fatherhood regarding all your children. You also throw in some other duties he now performs but do not substantiate them. I am particularly interested in the multiple hours he is spending out witnessing door to door every week. This is very commendable, but really needs some frame and detail to substantiate it. I have no doubt your husband is a hard worker, but this whole article is over the top. I know lots of guys who think they are the only ones who work hard and we all do it, but don't go on about it. Sorry your feelings for hurt by somebody challenging your husband's work ethic, but come on.

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    1. I just wanted to adress your comment about Pastor Andersons length of sermons. I have listened to several of his sermons and yes they really are all 60 minutes and sometimes longer. If you look at the dates of them on his website he does post them all. If you watch his live sermons he also does the song leading. Mrs. Anderson didn't even mention how much he helps her around the house and caring for his children which i believe he does because if you listen to his sermons he adresses how he helps his wife. I think it was one of his marriage sermons which by the way was one hour long. ;) God bless!

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    2. My response to this is a few months late since I just found this blog. As a pastor myself, I would like to address Mr./Ms. Donegoner's remarks. First of all, Pastor Anderson is a blessed man to have a wife who not only realizes how much he does but supports him as she does. Secondly, an apology should be offered for the harsh accusations of exaggeration. This was NOT exaggeration. I can vouch for this from my own experience as a pastor. The hours spent preparing fresh sermons (3 per week) are very real. Personally, I don't preach an hour, although I've gotten close a few times. But, that doesn't mean others don't. I've had evangelists and missionaries preach an hour in the past. Also, the attack against Pastor Anderson's fathering capabilities ...now, that's a low, ungodly blow!!! I cannot judge his fathering style anymore than anyone else can who has never met the man. I, too, put in unbelievable hours some weeks. But, I've never missed out on doing things with my kids and I'm sure Pastor Anderson doesn't either. I have found that I don't need that much sleep. And, studying goes better after dark when all is quiet. Therefore, during the daylight hours, there's ample time to be a dad, pastor, husband, etc. Mrs. Anderson, your article is NOT over the top. You BOTH have a tremendous work ethic and I'm sure that your kids are involved in the ministry with you (BTW...that's quality family time spent serving the Lord together!) Thank you for such a great article that highlights the investment that pastors (and their wives) make into the service of the Lord.

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