Three Things Every Lead Pastor Must Do

Three Things Every Lead Pastor Must Do

Every lead pastor, regardless of church size, should be devoted to three key priorities weekly. Beyond being committed to mission, relationships, prayer, personal character etc., these three priorities are essential for a lead pastor. These priorities apply to pastors who lead congregations of 100, 400, 1,000, or 5,000 people.

1. A Minimum of 10 Hours Weekly on Sermon Preparation.

Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. ESV

If you are a preaching pastor, you must, must, must prioritize time for sermon preparation. You are the primary communicator of God’s word to the congregation. If you intend to preach sermons that are true to the text, clear, compelling, relevant, and Christ-centered, you will need to devote sufficient time to prepare sermons. Sermon preparation is a primary priority that you should never allow to be pushed to the side.

For more, read:

Are you Still Working on your Sermon on Saturday Night

2. A Minimum of 12 Hours Weekly on Leader Development

There is perhaps no better use of your time as a pastor than to develop leaders. Few pastors devote enough time to this critical priority. Lead pastors of all church sizes should commit a minimum of 12 hours weekly on leader development. Looking for biblical precedent for developing leaders? Jesus spent the bulk of his time developing twelve men who would go on to impact the world. (Including the writing of our New Testament.) The Apostle Paul modeled and taught leadership development as well. What should you do during this twelve hours? Read these posts below and develop a plan.

Why you Must Develop Leaders Starting Now
Seven Steps to Developing Leaders in Your Church
How to Develop Leaders in Your Church
How to Become a Leader Developing Machine

3. A Minimum of 4 Hours on Vision Planning

Every week, regardless of church size, you should spend a four-hour time block working on where you need to go as a church. This four-hour block is not the time for putting out fires or dealing with urgent issues. Devote this time to things that are important but not urgent.

Things not to do in your four-hour time block: Meetings, Counseling, Preparing your sermon, checking email, putting out urgent fires, etc.

Things to do in your weekly four-hour time block: Plan future sermon series, work on improving something in your ministry, set goals and work on moving them forward, Brainstorm solutions to problems, do strategic planning, write content that your church needs, etc.

If you are the lead pastor, you are most likely the primary communicator, primary visionary, and primary leader developer. Allocate a minimum of 26 hours weekly to these priorities. You still have 14+ hours left to work in other areas the ministry.

For more, read:

How to Get Home from Work Earlier
How to Take Control of your Crazy Schedule
How to Keep Urgent from Dominating Important
How to Delegate

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Posted by Brian Howard

My focus is to help YOU move forward one step at a time. I write about church excellence, personal productivity, and family leadership. I coach leaders, start churches, and help organizations break growth barriers. My goal is to draw on this experience to help YOU move forward in life, leadership, and productivity.

  1. Thanks Brian, you have offered some suggestions as to how much time to spend in various activities. What do you think about prayer? How much time should a lead pastor spend in prayer each week? Any guidelines for different circumstances? I have been wrestling with this.

    Reply

    1. Matt, back to you! What are your thoughts on this?

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      1. I have always struggled with carving out consistent time for prayer and then following through. Right now I am aiming to set aside 5 hours each week. My coach said this was ambitious…. I do this on long walks around my neighborhood. I don’t always get it, but feel so much better when I do. I have created a handful of lists/guides outlining our churches needs, all the people that attend, etc. Additionally some of my best thinking, reflection, problem solving happens during this time. I would love to work up to more than this by including times of prayers with others. But this is where I am now. I would love to know what other pastors do.

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        1. Hard for me to say if this is ambitious or not. I can’t help but think about 1 Thessalonians 5 exhortation to “Pray without Ceasing.” I don’t think I have ever met a person that I could accuse of praying too much. That said, I have a responsibility if I am a paid pastor to also carry out the practical functions of day to day ministry. The three written above involve teaching the Word, Discipling, and Oversight – All parts of being an elder. Perhaps someone else will weigh in on what prayer looks like for them in the LP role.

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          1. Great post! Acts 6:4, “…but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the word.” I agree Brian with the functions of the LP listed above. However prayer is one of the LP’s functions. I do not think 5 hours is to much, especially if you the time through the week in small chunks of focused prayer time. I would love to see how you made up your lists.

  2. Brian,

    Great thoughts. I found this post especially helpful. With regards to 12hrs for developing leaders, do you have any thoughts on how much of that time is for developing staff as leaders and how much of that time for developing leaders who are not on staff?

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    1. Luke, This all depends on your context. In many contexts, a leader has no paid staff and is working primarily with volunteers. In others, a leader’s time is primarily spent with staff. The main key is to assess who are the key 6-12 leaders that I need to be spending regularly time with developing. I have written much more on this in the Leadership Development section of the blog.

      Thanks!

      Reply

  3. I sadly have seen that not enough pastors or church leaders do not spend enough time on leadership development, of themselves or their team. God calls us to be stewards of the gifts He has given us which includes developing our leadership strengths. Great post!

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  4. I may be too presumptive but this plan appears to completely ignore the bivocational pastor. How is a person working a full-time job and pastoring a small congregation going to find 26 extra hours in a week?

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    1. Dan,

      Most of my writing is for paid pastors (the vast majority of who I work with.) Does the “extra” in your question imply that these things would somehow be above and beyond what you primarily do? I would argue that these are critical priorities for every pastor regardless of whether he is paid by the church or not. The total time spent, however, would be much less for a bi-vocational pastor.

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    2. David,
      Rich, my primary audience involves a larger church context. Bi-vocational pastoring is very different! Perhaps I should not have said “every” pastor.

      Reply

  5. Brian,

    Great thoughts! Very helpful!

    Reply

  6. “You still have 14+ hours left to work in other areas the ministry.” Not if you are bi-vocational. I am lucky to get 14hrs dedicated to those 3 areas.

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    1. Rich, my primary audience involves a larger church context. You are definitely right in that bi-vocational pastoring is very different! Perhaps I should not have said “every” pastor.

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      1. As I re-read what I wrote, I realized that the way I wrote it came across very snarky and sarcastic. I apologize as that was not my at all my intent.

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  7. All of these are good. My only concern is that none of these points relate to the priority portrayed in the picture (Prayer)

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    1. Prayer should undergird all of them. “Without Ceasing” Can’t be put in a category.

      Reply

  8. […] Also Read: Three Things Every Lead Pastor Must Do […]

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