What Does the Pastor Do the Rest of the Week? or The Top Five Tasks of the Pastor

“Shepherding animals is a semiskilled labor. No colleges offer graduate degrees in shepherding. It is not that difficult a job; even a dog can learn to guard a flock of sheep…Shepherding a spiritual flock is not so simple.” – John MacArthur

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The title of this article is “What Does the Pastor Do the Rest of the Week?” or “The Top Five Tasks of the Pastor.” I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked this question, sometimes in jest and sometimes with genuine interest. And, I suppose the question is understandable, as, often, people who attend church only on a Sunday have a difficult time imagining what the pastor does the other six days a week. So, a clear answer regarding the top five tasks of a pastor may be helpful.

The top five tasks of a pastor are: (1) to be a disciple of Jesus, (2) to make disciples of Jesus, (3) to shepherd and administrate the local church body, (4) to teach the local church body, and (5) to equip the local church body for ministry. John MacArthur notes that Titus 1:6-8 is the “standard for any pastor’s character and is thus the primary consideration in preparing for pastoral ministry” (John MacArthur, Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically, Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2050, 67). In other words, MacArthur argues that the primary task of being a pastor is to first be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Charles Spurgeon, likewise, says, “It should be one of our first cares that we ourselves be saved men” (Charles Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1979, 9). For this reason, Titus gives instructions to the character of the pastor as the first task of the pastor.

The second task of the pastor is to make disciples. In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV). This instruction is given to every Christian, as the missional purpose of the Church. In this way, the second task of the pastor is to make disciples.

The third task for the pastor is to shepherd and administrate the local church body. Thus, MacArthur states, “The basic function of a New Testament leader is overseeing” (MacArthur, Pastoral Ministry, 89). And so, the third task of the pastor is to shepherd, administrate, and oversee the church).

The fourth task of the pastor is to teach the local church body. As mentioned above, part of the Great Commission in Mathew 28:19-20 is that new disciples be taught to obey everything that Jesus had instructed. In other words, the teaching and preaching responsibility of the pastor is very significant in the local church.

The fifth task of the pastor is for the pastor to equip the local church for ministry. Ephesians 4:11-13 says, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of services, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13, NIV). In this way, the pastor must be able to equip the church to participate in ministry as a body.

The list is hardly exhaustive, as there are countless other responsibilities that face a pastor on a weekly basis-correction and protection of the church body, just to name two more. But, the next time you here someone ask, “What does the pastor do the rest of the week?” here is a handy response.

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