Clergy & Laity: What does the preacher do for a living? How many hours does he really work?

https://i1.wp.com/1.bp.blogspot.com/_bLBPZAiyuwA/SQkMldOkY5I/AAAAAAAAAJY/FlxoD65cNcE/s400/clerical_collar_9.jpgPart 1: The annual review

It’s the new preacher’s first annual review. The elders are trying hard to be wise and godly, but it’s a business-sort of meeting that’s about business sorts of things.

The minister has performed well in his first year on the job. Attendance is up, and the sermons are good. People still occasionally thank the elders for hiring such a good man.

But the economy is in the tank, and contributions aren’t so good. There are programs to fund, repairs to be made, payments due, and something has to give. Meanwhile, the preacher is asking for a raise!

The elders aren’t really sure how to respond. How can they justify giving the man a raise when contributions are down?

The elders have had their first meeting with the minister where he very politely, very deferentially made this request, and they are mulling over how to respond. They don’t want to lose him, but they also want to be good stewards of the Lord’s money.

Finally, one elder says, “I hate making these kinds of decisions in the dark. I come by the building two or three times a week, plus coming to services, and he’s not always here. I generally don’t ask the secretary where he is — I figure it might be something confidential — but when I do ask, as likely as not, she doesn’t know. Just how many hours does he really work? And what does he do?”

The elders decide that having more information is always good, and so they sit the preacher down and ask exactly these questions. The preacher is not happy. “I’m a professional! And professionals don’t have to keep hours. They are judged by performance, and you can see that I’m doing my job and doing it well. Attendance is up, and the members appreciate the sermons. Contributions would be up if it wasn’t for the economy — which isn’t my fault.”

The elders are bit shocked at what they perceive as his cheekiness. One elder, a retired CPA, says, “I’m a professional. Or I was for 45 years. And I could tell you exactly how many hours I worked every day and what I was doing. And I worked a lot more than 40 hours most weeks. My wife was a school teacher, and her time was accountable, too. I don’t know any professionals who aren’t accountable for their time.”

Another elder pitched in. “I don’t want to sound harsh, but your time if all you have to give the church. If you aren’t accountable for your time, then you aren’t accountable at all.”

The preacher is nonplussed. “Aren’t results what really matter? Aren’t you paying based on the outcome? When you hire a surgeon, do you ask what he makes by the hour? Or how well the surgery turns out? Besides, demanding to know how I spend my time makes it seem like you don’t trust me. If you don’t trust me, fire me right now!”

Now, I know a very well-respected professor, a former minister and elder, who advises his students studying for the ministry to keep up with their time just so they never have a conversation like this one. But I’ve never known a minister who routinely tracked his hours.

Part 2: Data

These survey results are provided, without comment, by church consultant Thom Rainer in a Christian Post article. Rainer defines an “effective church” as a church “ranked in the top five percent in conversion growth in American churches.” “Pastor” means senior pastor — rough equivalent to our preacher or preaching minister. (I’ve not found similar data for other types of ministers.)

* Pastors of effective churches sleep slightly over 6 hours per day. Pastors of comparison churches sleep almost 8 hours per day.

* Pastors of effective churches spend 22 hours in sermon preparation each week versus 4 hours for pastors of comparison churches.

* The effective church leaders spent 10 hours each week in pastoral care compared to 33 hours for the comparison group pastors. Pastoral care included counseling, hospital visits, weddings, and funerals.

* Effective church leaders average 5 hours per week in sharing the gospel with others. Most of the comparison church pastors entered “0” for their weekly time in personal evangelism.

* Comparison church leaders spend 8 hours a week – more than an hour each day – performing custodial duties at the church. The typical custodial duties included opening and closing the facilities, turning on and off the lights, and general cleaning of the building.

* Leaders of effective churches average 22 hours a week in family activities. The comparison church leaders weren’t too far behind with 18 hours of family time each week.

(Edited by replacing spelled-out numerals with Arabic numerals to ease reading.)

Part 3: Some More Data

According to LifeWay Research, most pastors work far more than 40 hours per week.

Protestant pastors in America are working long hours, sometimes at the expense of relationships with church members, prospects, family and even the Lord.

A telephone survey of more than 1,000 senior pastors indicated a full 65 percent of them work 50 or more hours a week – with 8 percent saying they work 70 or more hours. …

The … typical pastor works 50 hours a week. Scott McConnell, associate director of LifeWay Research, pointed out, however, that this average actually understates the number of hours because it takes into account bivocational pastors (11 percent of survey participants), part-time senior pastors (5 percent of survey participants), and volunteer pastors (2 percent of survey participants) – the majority of whom work, by design, less than 40 hours for their church each week.

… McConnell explained. “But, of the bivocational pastors who participated, the median number of hours bivocational and part-time pastors work for their churches each week is 30 hours. …

When factoring out those who are not full time, the median number of hours full-time senior pastors work for their churches each week is 55 hours, with 42 percent working 60 or more hours.

Among ministry activities, pastors spend the most time on sermon preparation. Half of them spend five to 14 hours in sermon preparation. Nine percent say they spend 25 hours or more in sermon preparation each week, and 7 percent report they spend less than five hours preparing to preach.

The Question

And so, dear readers, who is right? Should the preacher be willing to be accountable for his time and report to the elders? Should the elders judge his work solely on results?

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27 Responses

  1. In the scenario you describe Jay, the problem is that expectations were not set when the preacher was hired. When the preacher was hired, was he hired in order to spend X hours per week on each of the following tasks? Or, was he hired to produced Y results.

    One can argue about which approach is better, but at the very least, the expectation / criteria should have been set in the beginning rather than after a year.

  2. Results!

    Royce

  3. I do believe that a preacher should be accountable for his time. The easiest way to head off problems is knowing what to expect ahead of time. For example, our elders expect the minister to be in the office for set office hours. They do not expect him to do all the visiting, they believe that is their job as shepherds. He probably does not have every hour or minute documented, but could probably give an accounting if asked. We had a youth minister once that this very question of what do you do during the day was asked because they could not see any “results”. He was never seen in the office, mainly because he was substituting during the day and still taking paycheck as a full time employee. This is a valid question to ask.
    I need some clarification by what you mean by results. Do you mean by results the amount of money being contributed? how many new members? If you do, then I think that is not something you can judge a minister by. Ministers are to spread the gospel and God gives the increase. Sometimes, even though the word is being spread, the fruits of that labor do not come. The minister should be accountable for doing all he can for spreading the gospel.
    And just as an aside as a mother, if my kid responded to my question like that I would know he had a guilty conscience!

  4. Good question Jay. I’ve been preaching for many years. I’ve never had an eldership ask the question and I’m not sure how I would respond if they did. It is difficult to compare what a preacher does with what a person does who is hired to work a job with a pre-set guideline as to what is expected. With a minister the needs of the situation change almost constantly. At the very least some of what he does has to be result oriented. Good article, thanks.

  5. I don’t want our preacher to be motivated by money, period. Does anyone really want a minister who will work harder if you pay him more money? Who is he serving, anyway?

    OTOH I don’t want him to have to worry about whether he has enough or not. I want his attention focused on the ministry. I want him to feel like the church is being generous toward him. And I want the church to feel that way too — and actually to be that way.

    If the economy is weak, and the church budget is down, I think the minister should share in the austerity. He should not feel entitled to pay raises, any more than those working in the private sector are entitled to raises. Doing otherwise can undermine the membership’s goodwill toward the minister.

    I’ve noticed a cultural phenomenon in this area. These are generalities but they usually hold true. Black culture wants their ministers very well paid, driving very nice cars, living in the best neighborhoods. White culture sometimes wants their ministers to take a vow of poverty. Our congregation is majority black, and our ministry pay is commensurate with that.

  6. There are a number of recent books related to the subject of hours vs results. One of the more famous is “The 4-Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferris. http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/

    Hours vs results has almost become a generational issue with growing numbers of people in their 20s wondering why anyone cares about something as silly as hours. People (like me) above 50 twist in puzzlement when we hear this the first few hundred times.

    Tracking hours is also related to personality type MBTI. S(ensing) types tend to understand tracking hours while iNtuitive types don’t.

    As David Himes wrote, if the Elders didn’t tell the minister that they wanted to track his time when they hired him, they now have a situation on their hands that they helped create. I find it hard to believe that a group of Elders that has hired more than one minister in any situation has not encountered this before and did not know to express it while interviewing candidates.

  7. i think what’s most important is that expectations are clearly communicated upon hiring. i’m with david himes on that one. regardless of which route you go, it should be made known to all involved from the very outset of the relationship.

    as for your question: “…who is right? Should the preacher be willing to be accountable for his time and report to the elders? Should the elders judge his work solely on results?” — neither is right. the preacher should be willing to be accountable for his time, EVEN IF he’s judged solely on results.

    but i likely have a problem with his being judged by results. firstly, i think defining these results is going to be extremely tough. would we even know what to deem “success?” would we have called paul’s work satisfactory? men sleeping with their stepmothers and the wealthy getting drunk during communion before the poor had been served? would we have hired, and kept for any length of time, a single one of the old testament prophets?

    secondly, even if we can agree on results, honestly, what control does a preacher have over how his teaching and ministry are received? we make it sound like a growing church is something for which a preacher can be responsible. i just don’t buy it. a preacher can’t be judged by the Holy Spirit’s work. a preacher should be graded on whether or not he’s effectively preached the word of God and served the congregation as Jesus would.

  8. Paid ministry in the church has in the last 50 years has struggled for a model. The one the church has accepted is a mix between corporate concept and government standards. However let me point out there are no preacher unions. Something I think might help.

    But since the work is mainly contractual the duties and hours worked are written out. Where there is subjectivity in the quality of work there is a at will clause that can terminate the contract on either side.

  9. jamesbrett said, i just don’t buy it. (results) a preacher can’t be judged by the Holy Spirit’s work. a preacher should be graded on whether or not he’s effectively preached the word of God and served the congregation as Jesus would.”

    Isn’t your criteria just of subjective as what others have said about results?

  10. royce, you make a good point. the criteria i suggest may very well be subjective. but subjectivity is not my real problem with judging a preacher by “his” results. my difficulty is that i don’t believe the response of a congregation is the responsibility of the preacher. i don’t believe the results are “his” to be had.

    it seems a preacher should use his gifts in such a way that the church can be built up into maturity. so if his gifts are to accurately explain God’s words and make them practical to the lives of believers, he should be judged on whether or not he’s done so. but i can’t figure out any reason he should be judged for others’ responses to God’s word. we’re holding a preacher accountable for whether or not others allow God to work in their lives?

  11. Results of the church is a team effort. Is the minister leading or following the team? I firmly believe that long term, sustainable results are based on hard work along side of creativity. Read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers”.

    But elders beware. Don’t dare micro-manage a minister’s time. Focus on results. Set high expectations up front.

  12. In my opinion, all ministers of any type should account for their time on a weekly basis. Regular church service hours should be excluded, because all members are at the church during regular service hours and additonally work 40-60 hours per week.

    If you are getting paid, then accountability follows, period. If you are a volunteer, that’s different.

  13. I think preachers should be held accountable for their time and no preacher should resent being asked how much time they spend in the work. They may not keep regular office hours but if a preacher is truly devoted to preaching the gospel, he will spend many hours each week studying, preparing lessons, teaching, visiting, etc. The results should be left to God and when they come he should get the glory.

  14. First of all, Jay, I applaud your willingness to tackle this issue directly.

    Second, I remember distinctly a conversation I had with a deacon at my home congregation (the assembly I had attended while growing up) after having served four months as interim preacher (fresh out of preacher training school in TX) as they sought a permanent full-time preacher with experience. It went something like this:

    Deacon – What do preachers do?

    Grizz – Preach, teach, counsel, share the gospel with the lost, study to mature in faith and also to share with others to help them mature in faith…

    Deacon – But what would their work week look like? How would you schedule your time?

    Grizz – Well, sermon prep for Sunday morning and evening would probably take about 15-20 hours per week, visiting members and visitors and hospitals would probably take 8-10 hours per week, study for classes would take 3-5 hours each (at minimum) and I would expect somewhere around 5-10 hours per week in counseling. Personally, I cannot imagine being a preacher without setting aside time for evangelistic outreach, getting and conducting home Bible studies, planning outreach campaigns for the congregation, preparing others to share the gospel, meeting people in the neighborhood and around the local community, etc.. And, of course, there are always the unplanned emergencies that would likely average from 1-3 hours every week, though that would probably vary from week to week. And there would probably need to be some time spent on the bulletin, too. Does that answer what you were asking?

    Deacon – Well … can you describe what a Monday would look like?

    Grizz – Probably similar to most folks’ Saturdays. Family time, shopping, mowing the lawn, resting, maybe a round of golf or a trip to the gym.

    Deacon – Why would it not be a work day?

    Grizz – It would be a day to re-charge spiritually after the weekend, which is a preacher’s most intense time, teaching classes, preaching a couple of times, having meetings with elders, deacons, and others in ministry who are only off on weekends. Sundays in particular are busier for preachers than for many others in the congregation.

    Deacon – But why should a preacher have Mondays off when everyone else is going back to work?

    Grizz – For the same reason anyone else takes at least one day off each week. Is there a better day of the week you would suggest? (Realizing that I have just cut the usually weekend off in half…)

    Deacon – I just don’t see why everyone else should be at work and the preacher sitting around. Does that seem fair to you?

    Grizz – I guess it sounds about as fair as anyone else taking a day off each week. Would you expect a preacher to never take a day off?

    Deacon – I guess preaching just doesn’t seem like a real job to me. (Yes, he actually said that.) So why do you need a day off from something that isn’t really work?

    Grizz – I see. Hmmm. (silence)

    Deacon – (silence)

    We were sitting in a moving van (the Deacon was driving) in which we were transporting the material belongings of the newly called preacher and his family from CA to IL to begin his new work with our congregation. When we both went silent, there was a pretty thick tension in the air for about 50 miles…as we each thought about the conversation we just had. The Deacon broke the silence …

    Deacon – So, are you sure you want to be a preacher?

    Grizz – Yes. No doubt about it.

    Deacon – I can see where it would seem like a sweet job, if you want to call it that.

    Grizz – Really? I was just thinking it seems a lot harder to me now. Of course, the rewards of helping people know the Lord better would make up for a lot of the grind.

    Deacon – What grind?

    Grizz – On-call 24/7, even when you take a day off like everyone else.

    Deacon – But preachers are not supposed to be like everyone else, are they?

    Grizz – Do you mean preachers are not supposed to take any days off?

    Deacon – Why would they? What is so hard about being a preacher?

    Grizz – (trying hard to bite my tongue and not say, ‘talking to people like you who should know better’) Well, always needing to be ready to help others who do not know what a preacher does, for instance. How would you defend your job to someone who didn’t think it sounded like work?

    Deacon – Well, I don’t really have that problem because I have to set type and load paper and ink and make sure the printing press is working and monitor the quality of the printing and then bundle each job for shipping. That’s what printers do. And I also do all the silk-screening artwork for the company where I work.

    Grizz – What happens if the printing press breaks down?

    Deacon – We call for a maintenance and repair technician.

    Grizz – What do you do until he gets there?

    Deacon – We wait or try to get things ready for when things are back up and working.

    Grizz – Sounds pretty straight-forward. Does the press break down often?

    Deacon – Not usually. Maybe once or twice each month or so.

    Grizz – How long does it take to fix usually?

    Deacon – Usually not more than a day or so, and sometimes just a few minutes or hours…after they get the technician on-site.

    Grizz – Do you get paid during the down time?

    Deacon – Of course. It’s a real job.

    Grizz – I see. (followed by more silence and then listening to a ball-game on the radio)

    That was my first time to ever have anyone question whether preaching was a real job. I guess I had never heard anything like that before then. But I was just 24 years old and fresh out of school, so I counted it as another learning experience and began to study how other area preachers did things. And a month or so later I was hired at my first full-time position. And, yes, they asked the same questions, pretty much. But at least I was a bit more ready then.

    That was over 25 years ago. I have since been on the other side of interviews with prospective preachers, and we were able to avoid the kind of inherent disrespect in some of those questions – and yet still get at the kind of things that were expected and how each candidate we considered viewed those expectations. And in retrospect, I am not sure we improved the process all that much. And I was a bit surprised to see the survey results were so similar to what we had talked about, that deacon and I, so many years ago.

    One thing is different, for me at least, now: I think I would insist on a more colleague-to-colleague approach to the relationship. I am working on a degree in Business Management now and can see where a lot of the issues I faced when interviewing as a preacher were in violation of multiple federal employment statutes. Those issues have to be addressed, if we intend to show any respect to the laws of the national government, that is. And I think we should do that, as much as possible, though giving God’s word precedence when necessary.

    I imagine this thread of posts will eventually address more of that.

    And in the for-what-it’s-worth column, I only served in full-time ministry for 10 years. The toll on our family was a challenge that we found to be beyond our capacities to handle back then, so I have worked in other ‘secular’ (I hate that term) positions in the business sector. (I really identified with what a preacher’s wife shared in the comments on the first post in this series.)

    Currently I serve as a deacon and music minister on a volunteer basis with a small budget at my disposal. And I fill-in for our regular preacher (who is also otherwise employed) several times each year. I also teach on Wednesday evenings and handle most of the weddings and funerals. And for now, this works just fine.

    Blessings,

    Grizz

  15. After the musical fall from Grace at Mount Sinai, God turned the national leaders over to worship the starry host but sentenced them to return to “beyond Babylon.” At the same time, Christ (the Rock etal) defined the Qahal, synagogue or church in the wilderness to hold a holy convocation. This came to be every REST day. It was inclusive of Rest, Reading and Rehearsing the Word of God: that’s what a disciple does. It was exclusive of “vocal or instrumental rejoicing.” That is what a disciple does not do when God’s Word is being taught.

    That continued parallel with the Temple sacrificial system which was identical to all Goyim or national temples including Babylon. The godly population was quarantined from the temple when they heard the loud noises never called music.

    They were restricted to their local area and attended synagogue which still had no preaching or “praise service” after it became more organized after the Return.

    That explains why a Timothy would be prepared for the gospel and even Gentiles who attended synagogue to escape the pagan systems. That was endorsed, exampled by Jesus and commanded by Paul in many passages:

    Acts 15:21 For Moses of old time hath in every city
    them that preach him,
    being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.

    There was no preaching as in sermonizing in the assemblies until after Constantine and no singing as an ACT until the year 373. Singing (better defined then as yelling) split the east from the west and is still a bone of contention.

    So, preaching and “music minister” may be ingredients of the modern institute but you must realize that it is an UNFUNDED mandate and you have to worry a lot about claiming that it is.

  16. As a general rule, growing churches (new converts) whose members are active in ministry, have very good preachers. I have never seen a large, growing, vibrant church with a lousy preacher.

    As to accountability…I think you have an absolute right to have the minister account for every minute of every day….if you are paying him by the hour. Usually he is expected to be superman, preaching wonderful, dynamic messages, being an administrator, counselor, soul winner, visiting hospitals and members homes, etc., etc.

    I have known great preachers who preached for many years without a salary, living completely by faith. Others, like Rick Warren doesn’t allow his large church to pay him, his book royalties are enough for him to live and give to many good causes.

    If you have a good preacher, Pay Him well. If you don’t some other church will.

    Royce

  17. Jay,
    What about the question: Does the Bible actually describe a preacher/pastor/minister the way we describe them? In other words, are we even talking about a “job” that has a biblical basis? And therefore, is it right to expect what we expect out of them? What positions are described in scripture, and what is preaching? Is it necessary for a church to have a preacher as has been described here? Or is every member supposed to proclaim the word, participate in the assembly, visit the sick, etc. ?
    I realize that to honestly face these question means a complete overhaul of how we assemble. Not to mention how we approach the scriptures. I know someone around here has written some excellent books about those issues.

  18. Jay,
    No longer a member of the Restoration Moment, I do have a few comments to make, as I did serve as a minister about a year after graduation in 1969 with a BA in Bible from ACC. First of all, I was totally unprepared for the role as minister. All I wanted to be was a missionary, and I was told I had to be a minister first.
    I did with the Non-Sunday COC. Not being raised in the COC, I was relatively free of some of the quirks, but brought my own in, as well as the CENI interpretation I badly mimicked. Anyway, I preached some stinkning sermons the first few months, and the people were kind. During that time, ,y best work was done ministering to young people in the jail, as well as runaways. Also I was seeking out the people who lived in the neighborhood around the church building. None of them had heard of the Church of Christ, though it had been there a few years. One Sunday, I baptized three or four people from the jail ministry, and a runaway. One of the people next door to the church started attending. I was taken aside by THE elder and was told I was hired to be their religious professional as I had a BA in Bible, and my job was to build the church up by bringing in smart people who had money. I was told my sermons were finally better and they appreciated that. They did not want those kind of people in the church. I resigned a few months later and did alternative service.
    After that, 10 years later, I became a minister in the Friends Church (Quaker). I was more mature then, preached some decent sermons and helped counsel a few folks. Their idea of ministry and minsters came from the Holiness Methodist churches. The Holiness revival of the turn of the 20th century affected the Quakers, and they hired full time pastors, who were more like the standard Protestant pastor. I served two years as a Friends pastor before returning to the medical field.
    I served as a minister in a house church about 10 years, and felt a lot to freedom there to preach and teach what I thought needed to be said without reprisal. I then served a year as a bi-vocational minister with the Mennonite Church in Virginia. There were three of us. For the most part it worked, except one of the team thought he should be the only pastor as he was the only one to openly favor tithing and the KJV. We moved away later and went back to house churching. I also preached about a year as a volunteer preacher at a non-denominational church.
    All in all, ministry in the COC and Friends was the worst. One man (or person) could not meet ALL of the expectations and do it well. The housechurches were ok , as there was a lot of freedom there. My best experiences were with churches where I was a bi-vocational minister. I recommend that to the COC.
    The current pastoral system imported into the COC is un-Biblical (maybe not anti-Biblical). I feel from my experience that it is the worst way to do ministry. Also many people become pastors, so they can pursue their real ministry of teaching, counseling, or writing.
    Just my thoughts, rightly or wrongly.

  19. Church growth is a cult: Paul said that if you want to find Jesus you have to outside of the camp (barracks, marketplace) and suffer reproaches. Paul warned the apostles that the WORLD will hate them and Jesus said He would not pray for the WORLD.

    Preachers are now pastors:

    “The pastor is not a necessity. He is a FUNGUS GROWTH upon the church, the body of Christians, DWARFING its growth, PREVENTING its development of its members; and until the church GETS RID of him it will NEVER prosper as it should. In the Bible we can find all the necessities.

    “I can testify from my own observation that a good eldership will lose its efficiency, and its members become both UNABLE and UNWILLING to do the work of elders, in a very few years after the employment of a pastor. And if under the pastor system a good eldership has ever developed, I have never seen or heard of the case. I don’t believe that has or ever will be done.” –James A. Harding, Gospel Advocate, May 20, 1885

    Preaching was ouftlawed in the synagogue and Peter outlawed “private interpretation” which is further expounding. Jesus expounded the prophecies and paid it all.

    Preacher or Keruso identifies a HERALD: a herald takes the sealed message and runs with it. He does not open it or modify it. He does not charge on the receiving end.

    In Athenian law it was not lawful to send a philosopher or poet out as a presbyter or kerusso. Poets and song writers were forbidden to write true history because they couldn’t leave the FIRS ORDER text alone. That is why poems and songs are called ‘secod or third removes’ from the truth. They write of what MIGHT have been if I had been in charge. In the synagogue they had a systematic plan to read through major parts especially the Psalms and prophets where Christ speaks through the prophets.

  20. Jay, maybe you should include some questions on looking at elder/minister relations and laying a foundation from the very beginning of what is expected, job description, hours, etc. Our current elders did that. In fact, one thing they stressed from the very beginning was that my husband spend quality time with his family. They had seen too many preachers neglect their families. He also has a written job description.

    @Grizz, I’m sorry I had to smile at your post only because it’s sad it is so true. People have no idea what ministers sometimes do during the day. I tried to explain on my post on the intro to this subject just some of the things that come up that you wouldn’t even think about that ministers sometimes have to deal with.

  21. Anne,

    I was both excited and also sorry to read what you wrote. I laughed, I cried (yes, real men cry), and I celebrated the ways God used you that you never could have seen coming.

    One of those times for me was when I my wife and I lived next to the building of one of the churches we served. We heard what soundede like cats fighting and wailing off and on for about ten minutes. Then we turned the A/C off and listened again and realized it was coming from the darkened doorway of the church’s building next door. (It was in a high-crime area of the city, but it was a parsonage provided free when we were not making much of a salary, as usual.)

    So i grabbed a baseball bat and went outside into the early summer air and went to see what the ruckus was all about.

    The next thing I knew was that it was not a cat or two cats fighting. It was a baby girl of about 18-20 months, dressed in just a t-shirt and sandals and a disposable diaper. She was crying for her mommy who had become despondent and left her at the church’s door, hoping that we would take her in and raise her to know the Lord she had learned about in that same little building several years before. After checking to be sure no one else was around, I gently approached the baby girl and took her into our home.

    What does a person do when a baby is left alone outside their door in the middle of the night?

    We took her into the crowded 700 square foot home we lived in and fed her and checked her diaper (which was still pretty fresh, as I remember, thankfully), and then we held her and laid her down to sleep beside our own baby boy in his first big-boy bed. Then we retreated to the living room to discuss what should be done next. Then, reluctantly, but with full assurance we were doing the right thing, we called 911 to report our discovery of the little girl and ask for help finding her mother. I had several friends on the local police force and we asked them to help us and to advocate for us to keep the baby girl until her mommy was located and we could make longer range plans.

    Of course we were told that Child and Family Services would be called and that the baby might be taken to the station to await CFS placement with a foster family. Using every connections we had (thankfully) we were able to prevail and received permission to keep her for 36 hours if the mother was not found. After that, she would have to be turned over to foster care.

    In the end it was discovered just a couple of days later that the child’s mother had ridden the JOY bus I had been JOY-leader on as a teen volunteer. The child and her mommy were re-united in my office and we were able to work with their little family to resolve her desperate situation to the best of our limited abilities.

    Even now, more than 20 years later, tears come to my eyes as I wonder at how God used our humble family with so little to serve this precious little baby girl in ways I never thought happened in real life. I used to ask, ‘why us, lord?’ but not anymore. These days I am content to know that we helped to change their lives with the touch of God’s love – somehow shining through the hearts of a young couple who just wanted to serve. My wife’s picture made the front page of the paper the next day, holding the baby girl in one arm and our son in the other, her stomach swelling as the due date for our daughter’s birth was rapidly approaching. I’ve never been so proud as I was that day of our little family and having the faith (and probably lack of good common sense raising a family in that neighborhood) to be where God could use us and answer the prayers of a desperate young mother.

    If anyone had said that I would ever be awakened in the middle of the night by a baby left at our door, I probably would have scoffed, if not laughed out loud in their face. And who knew how amazingly easy it would be to take her right into our little family, however briefly, and serve where God wanted us to serve – in His mission?

    Interruptions like that made all the others pale in comparison. But then, Anne, you already know that.

    Blessings, Sis,

    Grizz

  22. I know a few that aren’t accountable for time OR results :p

  23. I have seen in my lifetime a transition within the Church of Christ, as well as in other denominations such as Baptist, of small town and country congregations where the preacher was allowed to spend his days in his garden, or on the front porch of his retired members to a more modern expectaion of time accountablity. Many Preachers who worked during this transition found it difficult to adjust. My grandfather, a southern preacher who prefered rural c hurches, was not a lazy man by any measure. He read daily and wrote most his own sermons. That takes time. Yet, when he and my grandmother wanted to go fishing, they went fishing. He died in the early 1980,s. He would not want to be part of the professional clergy.
    However, there came a time when preachers had to grow past the country parson role and continue as students of the written word to be GOOD preachers. And that takes many hours through the week. I remember Landon Saunders nearly 40 years ago saying that a preacher spending his time drinking coffee with friends, then on Saturday night pulling down his book “Simple Sermons for Simple Preachers” does not feed a congregation. The members in the pew, before they have something to say, have to have something to hear, and THAT is the preachers responsiblity.

  24. Wes, I know a lot.

    Small congregations that have a couple of deaths a year and maybe a wedding. Once in a business meeting at a church close to where you are, I asked if the preacher would keep a time ticket as I had to at work to see what he did each week. Not detailed, just a rough idea. We voted on it and for a month or two he did.
    No visiting, no classes other than Sunday and Wed night, and rest spent in study.
    Same Sunday, others of us also taught a class and also did on Wednesday night. We also held down a full time long hour job.

    Regular salary same or above the rest of us.

    This is typical of small church of Christ congregations. No wonder they preach against the big congregations. Seems like early retirement to me.

    This is why preachers and churches that are actually doing something are preached against so. They must be doing something wrong or they make me look lazy.

  25. John,

    I fully appreciate the importance of time spent in sermon and lesson prep. The data in the post show a strong correlation between time spent on sermon prep and effectiveness, and I would not have expected otherwise.

    And I understand that the work of the preacher is not like secular work. Time can be very well spent in prayer and visiting and such. It’s imperative that elders not see the preacher’s work as being like secular work.

    Then again, it’s important that ministers be available to the members on a scheduled basis and that the secretary know when they’re not in the office and why not. Preachers look very unprofessional and embarrass themselves when the receptionist doesn’t know whether he’s in the building or where he might be found. Accountability is an essential element of Christianity — not just the paid staff.

    This is also an essential discipline regarding sexual accountability. http://oneinjesus.info/index-under-construction/leadership/ministers-guilty-of-sexual-sin/

  26. Jay,

    That is why a preacher should hire the ugliest receptionist or secretary he can find.
    Sure helps in assuring he is not straying at the office.

    I’ve often wondered how like in the working world if a man is not producing as expected, he is put on commission. Has anyone ever seen this done with a preacher and what the result was? Sorta like $3000 for a confession, $5,000 for a baptism, etc.

    I do know that when a congregation goes to visit a foreign field they support there seems to be real good growth reported, but the foreign congregation does not grow year by year, but stays the same in number. Add the converts up for a number of years and ask what happened to them?

    I’ve suspected a show was put on by the foreign minister.

    Accountability needed? You betcha!!!

  27. I meant some foreign preachers. If you have a go getter preacher, no amount of money is enough to pay him and I’m all for whatever can be afforded.

    We all are to visit the fatherless and widows and those in prison. Do we?

    I do see a difference in a full time preacher and the working stiff member in this regard. Not in responsibility, but in time available.

    Many times I have asked church of Christ preachers if they have visited sister or brother so and so in the old folks home or at their shut in place and been told they are not required to do so any more than the rest of us as preaching is what he was hired for, rest is just as any christian.. Maybe so, but preachers have more time to do so and especially when members are doing the visiting that work full time and the preacher does not visit at all.

    Anytime there is no accountability and money (Pay) is involved, there is somewhere a scoundrel that will take advantage. Preachers are no exception!!!

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