Joe’s 10 Iron-clad Rules for Success in Ministry

number-tenBy Joe McKeever

So, you’re new in the ministry?  And you want to get this right, of course. You have definitely come to the right place, friend.  Pull up a chair and get ready to take notes.

Some alternative titles for these ten little gold nuggets (aka, iron pyrite) might be “How not to rock the boat.” “How to last 50 years in the ministry without creating a ripple.”  “How to please everyone and secure a good retirement.”

Tongue firmly planted in cheek, seat-belt fastened, sense of whimsy intact…..

1) You’re going to need sincerity to make it in the ministry. If you can fake that, anything is possible.

2) The crowd will be bigger if you don’t count them.  We learned this truth from fishing. Any fisherman knows, The fish not weighed is heavier than the ones that are.

3) To feel better about your sermon, do not ask your wife on the way home, “Well, what did you think?”  She will tell you, and then where will you be?

4) The typical congregation will love you more if you preach generalities about sin, lower the boom on atheists and cultists, and speak favorably about the local high school football team.

5) Make changes and the whiners will leave your church.  Make no changes and the winners will leave. So, decide who you want to keep.

6) Expecting the congregation to remember your anniversary and to give Christmas bonuses is the surest path to disappointment.

7) The person hanging around your office wanting to be your best friend is your worst enemy.  Watch him/her like a hawk.

8) Using certain phrases will impress upon the audience that they are being treated to inside information.  “Now, most people do not know this, but….”  “The denomination does not want you to know this, but….”  “We Greek scholars know this word actually means….”  “I have this on good authority….”  “A friend who has been to Israel informs me….”  Try to do this with a straight face.

9) Telling a critic “It’s my way or the highway” is not good. It smacks of tyranny and makes you appear a bully.  So, figure out a nice way to inform them if they continue to oppose you, they are in danger of hell fire.

10) Speak well of your predecessor. And, as you have the opportunity, visit him in the state penitentiary occasionally. Report back to the congregation how well he is doing and that he sends his love.

There!  Do these things and it will all work out. Probably.

joeeaster2012-228x300

 

Used with permission by Joe McKeever. Joe is a Pastor, Preacher, Author, Professor, Cartoonist, Jesus Lover, Friend.

Nine Observations about Announcements in Worship Services

origin_4274024184By Thom Rainer

To have or not to have announcements in the worship services? That is the question many church leaders ask today. And indeed there are several tendencies or trends related to announcements, and they are often related to the size of the church.

I asked a number of church leaders of congregations of varying sizes about their practices in this area. They pretty much confirmed what I am seeing as well. Here are my nine observations:

  1. More church leaders do not think announcements should be a part of the worship services. Their churches are more likely to have announcements projected on a screen prior to the worship service, or not to have them at all in the worship center.
  2. Large churches (700 and up in average worship attendance) are highly unlikely to have announcements as a part of the worship service. As noted above, they may have the announcements projected on a screen prior to the worship service.
  3. Smaller churches (under 200 in average worship attendance) are very likely to include announcements as a traditional part of the worship service. Excluding them would likely cause some level of conflict in the church.
  4. Video or projected announcements have grown commensurate with the growth of projected lyrics during the worship music. Because the technology and equipment is available for the music, more churches also use it for announcements.
  5. With greater frequency, pastors limit making announcements unless they are a major or visional issue. This trend is growing in all churches except smaller congregations.
  6. More congregations limit announcements before or during the worship services to those issues that affect most or all of the congregants. For example, it is becoming less likely for announcements to be made about a committee meeting that involves only six people.
  7. Many pastors are still asked to make announcements right before worship services begin. Often they are handed a slip of paper or told adamantly that something must be announced. I will address this issue in a later blog post.
  8. Pastors also receive pressure from different groups and individuals to make certain their announcements are made. Most every church member has his or her own idea about priorities in the church. One pastor recently told me that a church member got mad at him because he did not announce that the member’s daughter was named salutatorian of her senior high school class.
  9. Most church leaders believe that the retention rate of announcements by members is low. If retention is indeed low, it would indicate that most times of announcements are done due to pressure or tradition or both.

What is your church’s approach to announcements in the worship services? How effective do you think they are? What is your reaction to these nine observations?

ThomRainer

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on January 7, 2015. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

How To Write Four Sermons at a Time

foursermonsBy Barry L. Davis

Before I was called into ministry I was a cabinet-maker. Most of the cabinets we made were store fixtures for places like The Limited and Victoria’s Secret, as well as furniture, conference tables, and other high end pieces for law libraries. Even though It was custom work built on a bench and not an assembly line, oftentimes there were multiple units needed of the same item. For instance, if it were a law library we would build multiple shelving units and multiple desks. Rather than cut material for each individual item, we would figure out the pieces we needed, and then multiply that by the number of units we needed to build. When all the pieces were cut, we would then assemble them. This saved a lot of time and also assured that quality standards were the same for each unit.

Awhile back I decided to apply the same principle to my sermon writing. Since I usually preach in series, it made sense to put together the whole series at once, rather than working on each sermon by itself. As you’ll see, each individual message gets its own personal attention, but writing multiple sermons at once results in better preparation, better use of time and resources, and is much more efficient in every way. I would estimate that my preparation time has been cut in half.

I am going to give you the basic principles for how I prepare multiple messages at once, but I am not going to go into great detail on basic sermon preparation. In other words, I am assuming you have done the proper Bible study, prayer, commentary reading, and other background work. This is simply the practical nuts and bolts of building a sermon series.

1. Name your series and how many messages there will be (“four” in the title is just an example).

For our example we will stick with four. Get out four pieces of paper, or open four documents in your word processor. Write down the name of the series on each document, and then the individual sermon titles.

multiple sermons2. Pick out the main Scripture text(s) for each message.

Insert the text into your document under the title for each sermon.

3. Write your outline for each message.

Outline the first sermon, then the second sermon, and so on. When you do this and look at all four sermons side by side, you will quickly see areas where you have been repetitive, or where you have not covered the topic/text fully, or other areas that need improvement. Edit and fix whatever needs adjustment. You are now outlining with the impact of the entire series in mind, and not just an individual message. You will find this will drastically alter your perception in a very positive manner. A sermon series is in some ways like a book — while there is a theme to each individual message, it should fit under the broader heading of the theme of the series. This will allow for a much stronger impact on your audience.

4. Place all the Scripture text in the appropriate places.

Insert all Scripture text that you are going to use under the appropriate outline headings. Do this for all points on the first outline, then the second outline, etc…. If you are doing your sermon preparation correctly, you already chose these texts before (or during the process of) making your outline(s). Now put them down on paper.

5. Pick out and place all illustrative material.

This is where you will see HUGE time-savings using this method. You are now searching for illustrative material for the whole series at once, with all four sermons open before you. For instance, you might be looking through an illustration book, reading a magazine, or skimming through videos and find a story or clip that fits well with the series — now determine which sermon it will help to illustrate best. While searching you might find a good illustration for Sermon #3 first, or #1, it doesn’t make any difference. Insert all the illustrations into your outline(s) under the appropriate outline points. If you’re like me, you’ll start moving some illustrations from one sermon to another because you’ll find they are a better fit (this is one of the reasons I do mine on a word processor — it’s much easier to “cut and paste” then retype).

6. Write your Introduction for each message.

Now, with the whole series in mind, write your Introduction, one sermon at a time. Each Introduction should contain some information, even if only a sentence, that connects it to the series as a whole. If you do this right, and you say something like, “In this series we are learning about how to control anger…” you might hook someone who needs help in this area to come back for the whole series. The idea is to build interest in the topic and get them coming back for more.

7. Now, finish writing each individual message.

Go back to Sermon #1 and start writing. You already have a title, outline, Scripture text, illustrations, and Introduction. All of the main parts of the message is already put together. Now begin to fill in the information that will explain each point, tie each point in the outline to the next, and to the sermon, and to the series as a whole. You will be amazed how easy this part will be. I have found having all the hard part done first removes any writer’s block I experienced prior to using this method. Write Sermon #2 and following the same way.

8. Write your Conclusion.

You can either write your Conclusion as a part of writing the individual message (above), or save it until everything else is done and then write all your Conclusions at once. Whichever way works best for you is the way that you should do it. Like the Introduction, try to tie the message to the series as a whole in the Conclusion.

That’s it! While this process is probably somewhat foreign to most of you, it really isn’t all that different from normal sermon preparation. I guarantee you that once you get the hang of this you will not go back to the old way of doing things.

Think of these benefits:

1) Tremendous time saver (without sacrificing quality)

2) Advanced preparation (have your sermons done a month or more in advance)

3) Consistency (your congregation will receive a steady diet)

I’d like to encourage you to try this method and then get back to me and let me know how it worked out for you. Of course, I’d love to hear your comments right now too. Just fill in “Comments” section below.

Barry L. Davis

 

 

 

 

Barry Davis is a minister, author, and owner of the Pastor’s Helper.

Seven Myths about a Pastor’s Workweek

clock-pastorsBy Thom Rainer

It is an old joke, one that is still told too often. You go up to your pastor and say, “I wish I had your job; you only have to work one hour each week.” It is likely your pastor will laugh or smile at your comment. In reality your pastor is likely hurt by your statement. Indeed the reality is that too many church members have made wrongful and hurtful comments about the pastor’s workweek.

Sadly, some church members really believe some of the myths about a pastor’s workweek. And some may point to a lazy pastor they knew. I will readily admit I’ve known some lazy pastors, but no more so than people in other vocations. The pastorate does lend itself to laziness. To the contrary, there are many more workaholic pastors than lazy pastors.

So what are some of the myths about a pastor’s workweek? Let’s look at seven of them.

Myth #1: The pastor has a short workweek. Nope. The challenge a pastor has is getting enough rest and family time. Sermon preparation, counseling, meetings, home visits, hospital visits, connecting with prospects, community activities, church social functions, and many more commitments don’t fit into a forty hour workweek.

Myth #2: Because of the flexible schedule, a pastor has a lot of uninterrupted family time. Most pastors rarely have uninterrupted family time. It is the nature of the calling. Emergencies don’t happen on a pre-planned schedule. The call for pastoral ministry comes at all times of the day and night.

Myth #3: The pastor is able to spend most of the week in sermon preparation. Frankly, most pastors need to spend more time in sermon preparation. But that time is “invisible” to church members. They don’t know that a pastor is truly working during those hours. Sadly, pastors often yield to the demand of interruptions and rarely have uninterrupted time to work on sermons.

Myth #4: Pastors are accountable to no one for their workweek. To the contrary, most pastors are accountable to most everyone in the church. And church members have a plethora and variety of expectations.

Myth #5: Pastors can take vacations at any time. Most people like to take some vacation days around Christmas. That is difficult for many pastors since there are so many church functions at Christmas. And almost every pastor has a story of ending a vacation abruptly to do a funeral of a church member.

Myth #6: The pastor’s workweek is predictable and routine. Absolutely not! I know of few jobs that have the unpredictability and surprises like that of a pastor. And few jobs have the wild swings in emotions as does the pastorate. The pastor may be joyfully sharing the gospel or performing a wedding on one day, only to officiate the funeral of a friend and hear from four complainers the next day.

Myth #7: The pastor’s workweek is low stress compared to others. I believe pastors have one of the most difficult and stressful jobs on earth. In fact, it is an impossible job outside of the power and call of Christ. It is little wonder that too many pastors deal with lots of stress and depression.

Pastors and church staff are my heroes. They often have a thankless job with long and stressful workweeks. I want to be their encourager and prayer intercessor. I want to express my love for them openly and enthusiastically.

I thank God for pastors.

ThomRainer

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on December 22, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

Ten Troubling Statements Church Leaders and Members Make

Arguing-WorkersBy Thom Rainer

If you want your church to move toward a slow yet certain death, make certain your church leadership and membership affirms most of these ten statements. They are troubling statements. Indeed they are proclamations that virtually assure your church’s decline and probable demise.

What is troubling is that these statements are not uncommon. They are articulated by both staff and lay leaders at times. See if you have ever heard any of these ten.

  1. We hire our pastors and staff to do that. “That” can be evangelism. Or discipleship. Or caring for others. Or visiting people in the hospital. Some lay leaders view pastors and staff as hired hands to do ministry they should be doing themselves.
  2. We have enough churches in our community. I rarely see a community that is really “overchurched.” The number of unchurched people in any one community is typically increasing, not decreasing. This comment usually comes from church leaders who view new churches as competition.
  3. We are a discipleship church. Or an evangelism church. Or a ministry church. Church leaders who say their churches are focused on only one area of ministry are offering excuses not to be obedient in other areas.
  4. We have never done it that way before. Yes, it’s cliché. But it’s still a very pervasive attitude among change-resistant people in the church.
  5. We don’t have the money to do that. More times than not, the church does indeed have the money to focus on necessary priorities. The problem is that some church leaders don’t have the courage to reallocate funds toward those priorities.
  6. We really don’t emphasize small groups. Churches that do not give a priority to small groups or Sunday school classes can count on a big exodus of people out the back door. Those in groups are five times more likely to stay involved in a church than those in worship services alone.
  7. We have enough people in our church. This is a tragic statement by leaders of inwardly focused churches. And it is an excuse not to do evangelism and ministry.
  8. We aren’t a church for those kinds of people. Though similar to number seven, this statement is an appalling declaration made by church members who really believe people of a certain race, ethnic group, income group, or other descriptor should be excluded from the congregation.
  9. We really shouldn’t expect much of our members. Low expectation churches are far too common. Too many church leaders communicate unwisely that it’s okay for members to do nothing, give nothing, and not be concerned about growing spiritually.
  10. We focus only on our members, not guests and others. Many church leaders make this statement either explicitly or implicitly. Sometimes the facilities, the worship services, and the small groups shout “Guests not welcome!” I released a resource today that addresses this critical issue of guest friendliness.

What do you think of these ten troubling statements? Are they accurate? Are they fair? What would you add or change? [Please leave your comments below]

 

ThomRainer

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on December 8, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

What to say to a Church Bully

Screen Shot 2012-10-30 at 12.07.46

joe-mckeeverBy Joe McKeever

(This is the type of article some church people will find objectionable. I’m fully aware of that and am willing to run the risk of the flack from writing it. If it results in one congregation standing up to a member who has held the church in a stranglehold and run off preacher after preacher, if it puts just one bully out of business, it’ll be worth the flack. This is a far bigger problem than most people realize.)

No church bully thinks he’s one. He’s just (ahem) looking out for the interests of the church, since a) no one else seems to be willing to do it and b) even though it’s a difficult task, he has the courage to step up and do this difficult thing.

Cooper Manning, oldest son of Archie and Olivia Manning and thus older brother of football champions Peyton and Eli, admits that he gave his little brothers a hard time when they were children. “I never thought of it as bullying,” he says.

They never do.

Bullies—whether at home or in the workplace, on the playground or in church—think of themselves as a) natural leaders, b) gifted for ruling and c) willing to speak up and take action when everyone else backs off.

In their minds, it’s all about strength and courage, vision and leadership. Let’s talk about church bullies.

Someone is calling the shots behind the scenes at your church, perhaps running off preachers, intimidating new pastors or pushing his own agenda as though he knows best what God wants in this place.

Know anyone like that?

We think of Diotrephes in the little epistle of 3 John. The apostle John writes, “I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren [traveling missionaries who need hospitality in their ministry], either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church” (NASB).

He loves “the preeminence,” is how the KJV puts it.

Sound like anyone you know?

Someone, you say to yourself and your spouse, ought to stand up to such a person and see if he can’t be put out of business before he destroys the church. He’s already ruined the ministry of several preachers and besmirched the good name and reputation of this church.

Someone should. Not you, of course.

You’re too nice to do that. And maybe a little fearful?

My question to you is: What are you afraid of?

“Well,” you reply, “I wouldn’t know what to say. Mr. Bully is a powerful person in our town. And he has a way with words. Why, he can cut people off at the knees with just a few words. I couldn’t stand up to a person like that.”

So, you’re not a fighter? Is that what you’re saying?

Good. You’re just the one for this job.

In fact, the last person who needs to take on a tyrant is another strong-willed, acid-tongued, outspoken church member who is the equal of Mr. Bully in every way.

The best person to stand up to him is the sweet-spirited and humble little lady who teaches Sunday school to the senior women and has not risen in a church business meeting to question the leadership in her lifetime.

Second best would be some older man who has served the Lord quietly for a generation or more, going about his work, always supporting the church program, loving his pastors and never engaging in gossip.

OK, we’ve got our leader. It’s you. Now all we need is a plan.

Pray. Ask the Lord. Listen to Him. Wait on Him.

Listen to church members around you. Surely you’re not the only one concerned about what Mr. Bully is doing to pastors and your church. Who are they? What are they saying? Listen and learn.

Bide your time. Again, listen to the Lord and obey Him. And remember this: The Lord is not pleased when His children wimp out.

By listening to the typical church member today, you’d think all God has is wimps.  In his wonderful book (from 1986) No More Mr. Nice Guy! Stephen Brown tells of attending a gathering of Christian leaders in Washington, D.C. During a lull in the session, a black bishop rose and asked to speak.

“My friends,” he began, “I have a message for you from the Lord. The Lord says that if you Christians ever get over your fear, you’re going to be dangerous.”

Brown says in His first miracle, Jesus turned the water to wine. Ever since, “Christianity has been turning the wine back into water.”

“Now when they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

Don’t wimp out, Christian. “Be strong and of good courage” (Josh. 1:6, 7, 9, 18).

How to Confront a Bully and Live to Tell About It

You ask him a question. That’s all.

Just hold him accountable for what he has done.

What question should you ask? Whatever the Holy Spirit puts in your heart. Trust Him to tell you. It could be something like:

“I’d like to pose a question to Mr. Bully. I know you were chairman of (whatever) committee. How was the decision made to (do whatever)?”  Then sit down and be quiet. (Do not overspeak. The simpler and more direct your question, the better.)

“Mr. Chairman, I wonder if Mr. Bully would like to respond to the rumor that he is responsible for our pastor leaving.”

“Mr. Moderator, may I ask what offices Mr. Bully holds in the church?”

“Brother Pastor, could we ask Mr. Bully to explain to the congregation why he is leading the movement to get our pastor fired?”

1. Be sure you know what you are talking about. Few things are more embarrassing that rising in a business session ready to set some people straight when it becomes obvious that you have your facts wrong.

2. Know the answer you are going to hear before you ask it. Lawyers say never to ask a question to a witness you don’t know the answer to; otherwise the matter will blow up in your face.

3. Be sweet and kind but persistent—wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove (Matt. 10:16). No inflammatory language. Nothing but kindness. Do not allow Mr. Bully to outsweet you or outspiritualize you.  Claim the high ground and stay there.

4. Do not lose your cool. Saying too little is better than saying too much. The last thing you want is to make Mr. Bully appear to be wronged and yourself the aggressor.

5. If no one else in the church rises to support your questions or to further challenge Mr. Bully, don’t push it. You cannot do this by yourself. But trust the Lord to work on people’s hearts. These things sometimes require more than a one-hour business meeting.

6. Do not let this be a personal thing, as though you and Mr. Bully are enemies. Your concern is for the welfare of your church, the honor of the Lord Jesus Christ and the man whom He has sent as the shepherd of His flock. You are not trying to humiliate anyone.

7. If Mr. Bully gets upset and displays his temper, good. Let people see him for what he is.

8. If he threatens to leave and “take my substantial contributions with me,” remind everyone present, “This is the Lord’s church, and He doesn’t need any of us.” This might be a good place to quote the line from Psalm 50 that goes, “If I were hungry, I would not ask you; the cattle on a thousand hills are mine.”

9. Where is the pastor in all this? Standing by, observing, sending up urgent prayer messages to heaven, hoping you and the rest of the membership are going to be strong and finally put Mr. Bully out of business, that’s where! If you do, or if tonight’s business meeting signals to Mr. Bully that his days are numbered, there will be joy in the pastor’s home throughout the night.

10. Do not get into a tit-for-tat argument with Mr. Bully’s wife or adult children who rise to his defense. Do not take that bait. Be sweet. Saying less is better than too much.

What happens next?

11. If the pastor is moderating the meeting and feels impressed by the Lord, he might ask the congregation at some point, “Does anyone have a motion to make?” And then wait. See what God does.

Once the pastor knows that the membership has Mr. Bully’s number and that they are reining him in, he becomes encouraged to resist the man himself. After all, what is going to happen—mark my words—is that the pastor’s office phone will ring early tomorrow morning. It’ll be Mr. Bully trying to cut his losses and still come out on top.

This is critical now, pastor. Don’t you wimp out. Do not give in to him.

Ask the Lord what to say to him.

If necessary, ask if you can call him right back in a few minutes. (Don’t give him a reason. You could be in your bathroom or have someone standing there. Just say, “I need to call you back. Give me three minutes.”)

Then get on your knees and ask the Lord what you should say.

And remember, pastor, this is not about you. Even though you will feel it is in some respects and if Mr. Bully is neutralized, you will feel you have just been handed a wonderful present.

But you are going to love the Bully family and be kind to them. After all, they are bruised now. They had taken pride in Dad’s domination of the church (they wouldn’t have called it that in a hundred years, but no doubt felt he is the leader of the laity and stands up to lazy pastors, that sort of thing) and now he has been humiliated.

Do not apologize. You didn’t do anything in that business meeting but moderate. The congregation rose up and held him accountable and took whatever action they did. Just assure them of your love and tell them, “It’ll be all right.” Then shut your mouth.

Don’t you undo in private what the congregation has finally gotten up the nerve to do.

Dr. Joe McKeever writes from the vantage point of more than 60 years as a disciple of Jesus, more than 50 years preaching His gospel and more than 40 years of cartooning for every imaginable Christian publication. For the original article, visit joemckeever.com.

Nine Issues Regarding Pastors and Office Hours

clock-pastors

By Thom Rainer

I know. I’ve been there.

Almost every week, and sometimes two or more times a week, a lay leader would wait in the church parking lot to see what time I arrived. He would also come back in the afternoon to see what time I left.

I was pastor of the church. This layman’s perspective was that I earned my pay by being in the office over 40 hours a week.

In a more recent scenario, the lead pastor of a church I know required all of the other pastors to have set office hours. But he also expected them to be relational and in the community. He kept track of their hours in a very legalistic way.

So what should a pastor and staff do regarding church office hours? What should be the expectations of the church members about their schedules? Allow me to respond by noting nine key issues.

  1. Pastors must be out of the office on a regular basis to be a relational presence in the community. The most effective pastors I know give relational presence a priority. That presence is to both church members and those who aren’t members of the church.
  2. The office hours of a pastor demand flexibility due to unexpected issues. A pastor must rush to the hospital when he gets word that a teenage girl was seriously injured in an automobile accident. Such emergencies and events can neither be planned nor neglected.
  3. The pastor’s office often is not conducive to sermon preparation. It is not unusual for a pastor to spend 20 hours or more per week working on sermons. But it is not unusual for the pastor’s office to be the source of multiple interruptions. Sometimes a pastor must go elsewhere to get the sermon done.
  4. Most pastors have evening responsibilities. Their only time off, therefore, may be during a weekday. Obviously the pastor can’t keep office hours for those days.
  5. A few pastors are lazy. Thus, the overused joke that the pastor is “visiting the greens” (i.e. the golf course) has been repeated too many times. Yes, some pastors do take advantage of their flexible schedules. But don’t assume that all pastors fit this category. Most pastors have a greater challenge with workaholism. And insisting on rigid office hours is not a solution to a problem of laziness.
  6. Some laypersons have unrealistic expectations about pastors’ office hours. They are certainly the exception, but just a few can make life miserable for a pastor. As I noted above, one layperson made my life pretty uncomfortable.
  7. The best situations I have seen take place when the pastor and the church have an informal understanding about office hours. I strongly prefer informal agreements since pastors have totally unpredictable schedules. I know of one example where the church asks the pastor to be available for 20 hours a week for meetings, counseling, and drop-by visits. But the church members clearly understand that the schedule cannot be rigid.
  8. Some pastors prefer to have clearly designated office hours for a part of the week. When I was a pastor, I designated Monday as an office day for staff meetings and meetings with church members. If an emergency occurred, the church understood. If they needed me at other times, which they did frequently, I understood. But I tried my best to protect Mondays to be in the office for meetings.
  9. The office hours of church staff other than the lead pastor should reflect the nature and needs of that position. A student pastor, for example, should be in the schools and the community more often than in the office. An administrative pastor may spend the bulk of the week in the office.

What is your perspective regarding pastors and office hours? What do you think of my nine issues? Let me hear from you.

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on December 1, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

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