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Should a Pastor Document Time Spent on Church Work?

by Brenda
(North Carolina)

I am just wondering what sort of accountability should be set for a pastor. Should he/she document time spent on church work?

Thank you for your comments.

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Should a Pastor Document Time Spent on Church Work?
by: Tonyh

This is very interesting line of thought.

I am from Africa and our concept of Pastor seems a little different from you own, in the so called western world.

Having been a professional myself and worked a lot on development, implementation and monitoring of performance management systems,
I tend to agree with the accountability issues for any employee.

But that is the point. 'any employee'

Our understanding here in Africa is that a Pastor is a servant of the Lord. He is employed and contracted by God himself as a gift to the body of Christ.

Doesn't God say in Romans 14.4 'Who are you that judges another man's servant?'

As such to ask for a Pastor to account for his time or anything at all will result in you judging him for his use of time.

I believe that is making yourself a God over him if you going to take place or role of God. Is this not a screwed up picture?

Of course I understand your concerns for Pastors not performing, yet 'you' pay them. No doubt you have to import into the systems of the world to manage your employees

Appropriate accountability helps everyone.
by: Pastor Kevin

As a pastor, I agree that being accountable to a small group of people is a good thing. I have seen churches where the pastor was "accountable" to everyone. The results are either no accountability or a burned out pastor who is pulled in hundreds of conflicting directions.

True accountability takes effort on the part of those holding the pastor accountable as well as on the part of the pastor. The pastor should not just be accountable for time, but also for his moral character and financial life. Discussing some of these things would never be appropriate in a public forum or mixed gender situation.

As far as tracking time, I do believe it is useful from to occaisionally have the pastor track his time. If you require it every week, you will burn him out and could get in trouble with the IRS because of rules for exempt employees. Every time I have tracked my time I have been surprised to find that the total is closer to 60-70 hours than 40. This is true of almost every pastor I know (including the part-time/bivocational pastors).

It can be appropriate for the small accountability group to share the total hours with the congregation but sharing the details can lead to confidentiality issues and misunderstandings. It is my belief that most congregations are shocked to see how much time the pastor is spending.

Some people would say that if the pastor is spending this much time that they need to learn to delegate, but there are some tasks that the church or the law will not allow the pastor to delegate. There are other tasks which the congregation is not willing to take off the pastor's shoulders. Very few churches have the luxury of hiring additional staff to do these jobs.

If you are worried about how much work your pastor is doing, take a day off from work and arange to join him in his normal daily tasks. While he may be in the office only 4-5 hours on a given day I guarantee that his actual work day is 10-12 hours.

Accountability Is Important
by: Editor -

When answering these types of questions I always feel like my words might be used as ammunition for a church conflict. The purpose of is to help congregations better choose and encourage their pastors. I hope that my input on this question will be used for those purposes.

Should a pastor be accountable for his time spent on church work? Yes. I think that answer is obvious to most everyone. The real questions, I think, are, To whom should the pastor be accountable and in how much detail?

In my opinion, the pastor should be accountable to a small group of church leaders, such as Elders and not to the entire congregation. If the Elders are satisfied with the amount of time the pastor spends on church work, then I think that should satisfy everyone.

But how much detail should a pastor provide? Does it need to be documented on paper? If it is written down, who keeps the reports and what are to be done with them? These questions I think can only be answered on a case by case basis.

It may help, though, to understand a few things about a pastors work "schedule."

1) Most pastors work a six-day schedule, taking only one whole day off. Some do take two days off, but the second "day" is usually spread out over six days.

2) Pastors often work late into the night at church meetings, youth activities, visitation, and making up for study time lost during the day. If he works until 11 pm, does he need to be at the office by 8 am the next morning?

3) Because pastors are often busy in the evenings, family time frequently suffers. To compensate for this, most pastors fit various family activities in between church obligations. It's very difficult to keep track of exact times worked when he is shuffling back and forth between family and church.

4) Even when a pastor isn't officially working, he's often working anyway. When he takes his child to the doctor he takes along a ministry book to read while he's waiting. On her day off she graciously answers three phone calls about church ministry. When he watches TV he makes notes about an illustration that he can use for Sunday's sermon. A pastor is in many ways always working. It would be almost impossible to document every minute a pastor spends on church work. But if you require him to record his work time, is it fair that he not be able to list every minute worked?

In summary, let me say that, yes, a pastor should be accountable for his time. But there is no way to really document everything he does for the church. The best solution, in my opinion, is to have a small group of church leaders keep basic oversight of the pastor's time. These leaders generally have a better understanding of the demands placed on a pastor's time and are also aware of the unique situation of your particular congregation.

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