Ten Questions You Want to Know But May Be Afraid to Ask Your Pastor
1. What Do Pastors Do During the Week?
A lot of people think pastors only work on Sundays. But this is far from the truth. A pastor’s work week varies, but it usually consists of sermon prep, leadership meetings, counseling, events, and correspondence. The tricky thing about pastoral ministry is that there’s not really a “clock-in/clock-out” system.
So while some pastors take advantage of this by running errands and playing golf all day, other pastors are taken advantaged of by overworking themselves. You can often tell the former by the health of the church and the latter by health of the pastor.
2. How Much Time Does It Take to Prepare a Sermon?
Every pastor is different, but I hear most put about 15-20 hours into each sermon. Some of you might be wondering, “Really? You poured 20 hours into that?” Well, at least you can’t say we didn’t try. Younger ministers will typically put in more time because of their inexperience and desire to prove themselves. Older pastors usually put less time due to experience or laziness.
3. How Much Do Pastors Get Paid?
Not much. I think only megachurch pastors are tempted to do ministry for money. But if you want a comparison to measure salary, one helpful pay scale is the public education system where senior pastors should make as much as principals while associate pastors should make as much as administrators or teachers. The tricky part about this though is what’s considered a pastor’s salary?
For example, I know one church that freaked out because their senior pastor was making over six-figures. But they didn’t realize that final number included their insurance, 401k, etc. I know another church that respected their senior pastor for making less than $40,000 a year. But they didn’t know the church paid for his housing, car, cell phone, etc. So pastoral salary is a tricky question.
4. What Do Pastors Usually Talk About When They Get Together?
It depends on which pastors are gathering together. If the pastors know each other well, they’re usually having fun and sharing personal struggles re: their church. That’s because they’re rooting for one another in this strange thing called ministry. If the pastors don’t know each other well, they’re usually picking each other’s brains and asking how they do things at their church.
And yes, sometimes subtle competition goes on where subtle bragging occurs (“our church has a second service now”) that’s met with false admiration (“…good…for…you…guys”). That’s because like most human beings, we can’t help but compare ourselves. That’s why the best pastoral gatherings are the ones when the guys know each other well.
5. Do All Pastors Get Along With Each Other?
6. What’s the Hardest Part About Pastoral Ministry?
Fulfilling people’s expectations. Yes, administration is annoying and sermon prep sometimes makes you question your value and worth. But the more often than not, meeting people’s expectations of you as their pastor is the most difficult part of ministry.
That’s because most people want you to be the jack of all trades: great preacher, brilliant theologian, insightful counselor, organized administrator, social butterfly, and, of course, always present when needed. This of course is never verbalized, but it’s often implied in the complaints people have at church.
7. Do My Pastors Know What’s Going on In My Life?
Yup. We know everything. We see you on Sundays. We check up on you with other people. We ask them how you’re doing. Sometimes people will come up to us and tell us how you’re doing. And we see your social media. We see your insta-stories. We know you have a finsta. So yes, usually before you schedule coffee with us, we probably know what you’re going to talk about.
8. What’s a Pastor’s Marriage Like?
Because pastors perform weddings, preach on marriage, and counsel couples, Christians may think a pastor and his wife are always reciting the Song of Songs to one another at home. In reality, our marriages are just as great, complicated, and painful as any other marriage. What makes it tricky though is the role of the church in the couple’s lives. This is difficult to navigate through.
I often hear pastor wives feel like they have to “share” their husband with the congregation. I mean, how can you complain about your husband not being home when he’s doing God’s work? It feels selfish. It’s also tough when a pastor’s wife hears criticism about the church. When people bash the church, they’re kind of bashing her husband. And there’s sometimes a disconnect in marriage because a wife wants to know what’s happening at church while the husband doesn’t really want to think about that stuff at home.
9. Who Do Pastors Hang Out With?
I always find it funny when I go to weddings that couples always assign the pastors to sit together during dinner. I feel like people think pastors are only able to be friends with other pastors. As I wrote about before, pastors actually desire normal friends like everybody else. But the tricky thing is that once you become a pastor, people at church want your advice but not your friendship.
They’ll meet with you and get mentored by you, but they don’t want to hang out with you. I think the power-dynamics make it feel like you’re hanging out with your dad. I get it. But this perpetuates the loneliness that pastors often feel in their personal lives. So I always say when you befriend a pastor, you give him a rare gift that he doesn’t take for granted.
10. What Can Church Members Do to Encourage Their Pastors?
This might depend on the pastor’s love language. Some appreciate gifts, friendship, or babysitting. generally speaking, I don’t know of any pastor who doesn’t get encouraged by words of appreciation. And not just general statements like, “I appreciate you pastor.” But when it’s specific, that’s what restores a pastor’s soul and helps him get up in the morning.
I doubt myself more often than not. But when people send me a message sharing how blessed they were by this specific part of my sermon or tell me face to face how life-giving it was when I met with them during that one particular season in their life…it makes pastoral ministry so much more enjoyable.