(Understanding the Pastor’s Work Part 1)
To fully understand the question as to whether a pastor should work full or part time, it is best to understand the typical work of a minister.
In his article entitled the Pastor’s Week, Evangelist Dan Woltmann details a pastor’s weekly workload, which we are simplifying here.
Sunday is the beginning and ending of his week. It ends a long week of preparation and prayer for the message he will share on the pulpit. Woltmann says preaching a 30-minute sermon is exhausting and is the equivalent of a full eight-hour work. If the church has two services plus Sunday School, that is then equivalent to a 24-hour work load.
Monday is usually the pastor’s “day-off.” What it actually means is that he has a little time for rest, some for bonding with the family, and a little extra to attend to personal errands. However, when the phone rings or when he receives a text message from a member asking for help, he can’t do anything but oblige. So much for the day off!
Tuesday to Saturday are spent in more prayer and preparation for next Sunday’s message. The research, study, and practice for these messages take hours, even days. This time is interspersed with member visitations, Bible Studies, prayer meetings, counseling sessions, ministry meetings, officiating weddings, dedications and funerals, and speaking invitations.
In a poll conducted by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, they found out that pastors’ work an average of 50 hours a week. For most, this does not account for the time spent in sermon preparation (rarely would you find a pastor who actually counts the hours!) Already, this is 10 hours more that the required 40-hours for those secularly employed.
It is clear that church work is always full-time work. There is no such thing such as a part-time church. The demands of ministry, even in the smallest of churches, typically require full-time commitment from its ministers.
Pastors give more than a hundred percent of their time, talents and resources because they work not simply to earn a living but because they are doing it as unto the Lord. Ministering to the church because of their love for God and his flock is a responsibility they embrace fully and whole-heatedly.
But the fact remains that pastors, just like regular employees, have financial responsibilities. And often, the compensation package offered by churches, especially by small ones, are not enough to cover the work rendered or the needs of his family.
This forces the minister to find alternative sources of income, paving the way for the concept of “part-time work.” The proper term, however, for someone who has an alternative source of income is not a part-time pastor but a partially-funded one, and one who receives all of his income from a church is fully-funded, not full-time.
Now we come to the crux of the matter: Is it wrong for a pastor to try to find other sources of income? Is it ok for the minister to do secular work part of the time alongside with church responsibilities?
For Tom Stultz, founder of Worldwide Tentmakers, it is a definite yes. He says, “God doesn’t call any of us to part-time Christian service. We all—lay people and vocational ministers alike—have an obligation to be a witness and to reach the most people with His message.”
A newspaper professional, Stultz was inspired by the account of Paul, Priscilla, and Aquila in Acts 18, to put up an organization for bi-vocational ministers. Paul was by trade a tentmaker and so were Priscilla and Aquila. Working together and living together, these three also ministered together.
In Acts 18:3-4, we read, “and because he was a tentmaker, as they were, he stayed and worked with them. Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.”
If Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles and the most prolific of the Gospel writers can successfully combine ministry with his trade, why then can’t we?