Things Small Church Pastors Have In Common

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In 2015 I will enter into my ninth year of coaching pastors and church leaders. At any given time I coach about fifty pastors and leaders a month. That’s a lot of coaching! Once in a while someone says to me,

“Dave, with all the pastors you talk to is there something you’ve seen that they all have in common?”

I always answer the same.

“For the most part, pastors, regardless of the size of their church or denominational affiliation, are over-worked, underpaid, and are not taking care of their souls.”

Over-worked

I was a pastor for twenty eight years before transitioning into full time coaching. I know the demands on the pastor of a smaller church. But the truth of the matter is that most pastor are putting in too many hours for their church and this means that other more important things are suffering. Whoa! What could possibly be more important than the church?

You and your personal relationship with Jesus is more important than the church.

You and your spouse are more important than the church.

You and your children are more important than the church.

Is the church important? Of course. But the church is not first, not second, not even third…the church is forth.

My experience in working with pastors has proven that when a pastor consistently works more than fifty hours a week other more important things begin to suffer. One thing I do is help pastors be better pastors in less time.

Underpaid

I think that with all the pressures on a pastor one of them should not be financial pressure. I think pastors should be paid well, at least as well as their congregation can pay them. I’m not talking about extravagant but well enough that they and their family are comfortable. Some church boards are very generous with their pastor’s salary, and many are not. Some churches simply do not have any more money to pay their pastors, but many do yet don’t.

Sometimes I’m brought in to help a church board determine what the spending priorities of their church should be. This is what I counsel them.

First, money must be set aside to pay the general operating expenses of the church, rent, mortgage, utilities, etc.

Second, money must be set aside to provide a comfortable living for your pastor and his/her family.

Third, whatever is left is open for prayerful debate.

Lack of soul care

Would you be surprised to hear me say that most pastors (that’s right, I said most) do not have a consistent and meaningful devotional life? Their lives are stretched a mile wide but their souls are only an inch deep. Hey…I wrote a book on that!

When your day is spent doing spiritual things (preparing sermons, counseling, planning church events) you can fool yourself into thinking that you are spiritual because of the spiritual things that you do. Some nutrients are derived from our ministry duties but not enough for us to maintain the vibrancy of intimacy with Jesus that we all want and that our people need from us.

Which of these three can you relate to the most? Over worked? Underpaid? Neglecting your soul? I can help. Contact me: dave@smallchurchpastor.com

2 comments

  1. John Finkelde’s avatar

    Very true Dave. I’ve found similar things in my coaching in Australia and am always upset when I find a stingy board that lacks the faith and courage to pay their pastor well.

  2. Dave Jacobs’s avatar

    Doesn’t it make you wish you were on said pastors board? They’d probably just kick us off. 😉

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