By: Dr. Clark Armstrong
In my denomination (the Church of the Nazarene), senior pastors and churches are required to provide a written job description at the time that they ask their district for permission to add any Associate Pastor (Manual, 159.3). Thus, generally speaking, Associate Pastors know what their area of specialization is supposed to be (youth ministry, children, music, evangelism, etc.) and what is expected of them.
However, a “lead” pastor does not enjoy that requirement. Although few assumed duties are written or even verbalized, the whole church places expectations on the pastor and evaluates his/her performance. The pastor is just supposed to know them. Plus, it would require more hours than there are in each week to meet them all! You can see how this could be a hug When I became a pastor, my first task was to determine what God’s job description for a pastor should be. I set out to make His expectations foremost in my ministry as a pastor. If anyone else would turn out disappointed in my performance, at least God would be pleased with me, and I would know that I had kept “the main things the main things.”
There were several steps to my discovery process. First, I found that the Church of the Nazarene had a job description for a pastor in its denominational Manual (Paragraphs 514-523). It was short and sometimes (in the portion outlining administrative duties) very specific. But it was a start. In fact, it was a very good start, since the first four items on the list were: pray, preach the Word, equip the saints for the work of the ministry, and administer the sacraments.
The second step that I engaged in was a Bible study of the New Testament. I found four main things that a pastor should do: pray, preach, love, and lead. These are the predominant pastoral duties or callings that arise, and they are drawn primarily from seventeen main scriptures: John 21:17, Acts 6:4, Rom. 12:6-9, 1 Cor. 13:2, Eph. 4:11-12, Col. 4:12; 1 Tim. 3:1, 4:13, 4:14, 5:17, 2 Tim. 1:6, 2:24, 4:2, 4:5, Titus 1:6, Heb. 13:7, and 1 Pet. 5:2-3.
From this I created an actual job description for myself as a pastor of a church. Under “A. To Pray” I included my own internal life and my responsibility to lead the body in prayer and prayer ministries. Under “B. To Preach/Proclaim” I included not only preaching in church services, but also teaching, evangelism, and discipling responsibilities.
Under “C. To Love/Shepherd,” all my pastoral care duties came into focus, including counseling, officiating ceremonies, compassionate ministries, and hospitality. “To Love” would also be behind any visits that I may do in hospitals, homes, or elsewhere. The last category was “D. To Lead,” which included providing leadership for worship, administering sacraments, board meetings, leadership development, equipping the saints, and casting vision.
Pray. Preach. Love. Lead. It is these four things that I will expand upon in an upcoming series of articles. Stay tuned.