In most congregations, the majority of the members-only see and hear the preacher on Sunday and Wednesday. Two hours a week. How about the other 166 hours during the week? Where is the preacher? What is he doing? Some think he only has to work a couple of hours a week. Others, such as the elders and other leaders, know what he is doing, or should be doing, because of job assignments and accountability procedures.
The preacher wears many hats during the 166 hours he is not in the pulpit or classroom. He, even though it is not the context, applies Paul’s remarks, “… I have become all things to all men, that I might, by all means, save some” (Cf. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
Humorously, a preacher once wrote on an application in the space asking for his occupation, “Jack of all trades, and master of none.” There may be a speck of truth in his answer. Especially the reference to “Jack of all trades.” And yes, he is master of some.
During my 55 years of preaching, teaching preachers, and serving as an elder, I have worn and observed other preachers, wearing many hats. Here is a quick list of some of those hats.
- Event planner. He is in charge of fellowship meetings. He may have hands-on or be responsible for delegating the responsibility to others.
- Office manager. He oversees the day to day events in the church office. The church secretary is his assistant.
- Taxi driver. From time to time he is asked to provide transportation for members to go to the doctor or some other appointment.
- Funeral director. He is asked to plan, arrange, and carry out the numerous tasks involved in the funeral.
- Financial advisor. Members come to him for advice related to financial issues: credit card debt, investments, and budget issues
- Community worker. To be a positive influence in the community, the preacher becomes involved; either personally or as a representative of his congregation.
- News reporter. In the weekly bulletin, he contributes information about the various activities, needs, and brotherhood events. Thus, he is a Writer.
- He is a family man. He has a wife and family that are second place in priority to God and service to Him.
- He is a custodian. He empties trash cans, picks up items left on the pews and floor, and checks the restrooms for cleanliness.
- He is a coach and trainer. He gives advice, materials, and training classes for those who desire to participate in congregational activities.
- He is a referee. He is asked to be an arbitrator in marital conflict, disagreements among brethren, and debates among leaders.
- He is a social worker. He helps members apply for unemployment benefits, child care, and other social areas in the lives of members.
- He is a CEO. This responsibility is given because of his position and visibility in the affairs of the congregation. He is “the boss”—some prefer the title “lead pastor.”
- He is a fundraiser. Drives for budget contributions, mission contributions, and special offerings are promoted by the preacher.
- He is a recruiter. He knows the areas of need in the congregation and develops a plan for recruiting and training members to fill those positions.
- He is a theologian. He has the “answers’ to every biblical, religious, and opinion issue members, and others, bring to his attention. This is why he is constantly studying.
- He is an attendee. He is expected to be present at every congregational meeting, area-wide event, and home gathering he is invited to attend.
- He is a fashion guru. He is expected to dress in the current style acceptable to society and the congregation.
- He is a wedding consultant. He helps couples prepare for their weddings through counseling, ceremony requirements, protocol and performing the ceremony
- He is an entertainer. He is expected to “preach the word” but not be too serious. There is a place for humor, stories, and jokes in sermons and classes.
- He is a master of ceremony. Regardless of the event, if it is in the church building, he is expected to preside over the affair.
- He is the Master at Arms. He is in charge of the security of the building. The alarms, locking and unlocking, turning lights on and off, etc.
- He is an organizer. In addition to his charge to preach the word, evangelize, and appoint elders, he must organize all other activities around his biblical mandates.
- He is a chaplain. He is beside those who are bereaved, suffering, and questioning the events in their lives.
- He is a memory expert. He is expected to know the names of each member, where they work, attend school, and their birthdays. This allows him to respond appropriately.
These 25 examples are presented, not as criticisms, but as positive observations about the servant heart of preachers. However, on another note it may be observed that these may serve as reminders relative to why some preachers have experienced burnout. How do these observation relate to local preachers and educating the congregation?
J.J. Turner is the author of a book, “505 Observations about Preaching” (amazon. com).