Every parishioner can tell you what a pastor should do. Most would be more than happy to do so. And just try and stop some of them. But rarely is there a great deal of unanimity about what those things are. Sometimes there is, in fact, opposing views about what we should be doing. And it’s not just limited to parishioners: I was at a pastor’s conference this week in another part of the country and there was clear division among them about this very question.
It would not be possible to provide any kind of comprehensive answer in the limited space of a blog post, even if I had such an answer. But I would like to suggest any list should include the following. They all fall under the general heading “lead and feed.” I like to say that my job as pastor is all and only about leading and feeding, in the following ways.
1. Lead Prayer and Worship
The fundamental way in which I should be leading is through worship and prayer. This includes both my own prayer as well as a worship leader and celebrant for the congregation. In worship, especially at the Sunday Eucharist, I am most authentically and perfectly serving as pastor by leading parishioners in the service of God.
2. Feed with the Word
Preaching is job number two, and that is all about feeding followers with the Word of God, that subsequently is then the food on which we literally feed at communion. Sharing the Word of God is about forming and shaping disciples as well as introducing the unchurched to Christ and the discipleship path. It is about giving them the steps they need to take for health and growth in discipleship.
3. Lead a Cohesive Leadership Team
The pastor must prioritize his leadership team. First of all I have to cultivate and develop such a team and then I have to invest in them and shape them into a real team who really lead along with me. Finally, I must constantly strengthen them and shape them into a cohesive team that provides unified and solid leadership to the other staff and volunteer leaders too.
4. Feed Through Stewardship
A pastor simply must raise money, this is fundamentally and ultimately his job, others can help him but he’s got to do it. Same for raising up volunteer ministers and getting people involved in the life and leadership of the parish. The pastor is recruiter-in-chief.
5. Lead Strategic Planning
The pastor must be setting the direction and strategy of the parish. He can certainly rely on the good advice of trusted advisors, but he cannot abdicate this responsibility, or, as is more often the case, simply ignore it. If a parish does not have direction and a strategy to move in the right direction, it will go nowhere.