Ever felt like your expectations of others (and likewise) are not being met? We get it, and we know this causes confusion and frustration—even in the church context.
A church’s expectations for their pastor often go beyond what are stated in a job description, and it’s not often in writing. It’s simply assumed that the pastor “knows” about them.
So how does a pastoral candidate or a search committee have a fruitful discussion about expectations? Obviously, prayer is the top priority— but we then need to ask good questions.
Who is this for?
You might be on a search committee, needing to prayerfully seek out a candidate who is a good fit to pastor your congregation.
You might be a pastor, seeking a new call to a church.
In either case, we believe the questions on this page will be a helpful launchpad for fruitful, Godly conversations between pastors and churches.
Questions for pastors and churches
a. Many of these questions apply best to the context of a smaller size congregation with one or two pastoral staff. If your congregation is different from that, please consider adapting the questions to fit your situation.
b. These questions aren’t ranked in importance; they are simply a collection of the most frequently-discussed topics to clarify expectations placed on a pastor.
- Is the pastor expected to attend every meeting of the church? How often?
- Is the pastor expected to act as moderator or as a resource person at meetings?
- Is the pastor expected to produce the church bulletin each week?
- Do decisions about the pulpit ministry belong to the pastor, deacons, or church?
- Does the pastor have opportunity on occasion to preach elsewhere? How often?
- Who is expected to arrange for pulpit supply?
- What is the expected length of a pastor’s sermons?
- Is there a preferred translation of the Bible to be used?
- Is the pastor expected to teach a Sunday School class?
- What is expected of the pastor in youth ministry?
- What are the expectations on the pastor’s own continued education?
- How much time is the pastor expected to be involved in issues in the community?
- Are there certain issues on which your church has taken an active stand?
- Are there certain issues which your church has chosen to avoid?
- Does the church expect evangelistic crusades? If so, how often?
- Is the pastor expected to do the church’s evangelism?
- Is the pastor expected to give “altar calls”? If so, how often?
- Is input into leadership from the pastor only or are the deacons and church included?
- How much is the pastor permitted to delegate to others?
- Is the pastor expected to create and implement any vision for the church?
- Is the pastor expected to do pre-marriage counseling?
- Is it permissible to refer certain counseling situations to professional counselors?
- Can the pastor delegate baptism and membership classes to others?
- Are there expectations concerning for whom a pastor can perform marriages?
- Is the pastor expected to lead all aspects of a worship service?
- Who chooses the hymns and order of service?
- Is there room for flexibility and creativity in planning a worship service?
Care & Visitation:
- How much time is the pastor expected to contribute to visitation in a normal week?
- How much visitation is expected to be done by lay-people?
- Is the church’s emphasis on ministry in the community or ministry in the church?
- How much involvement is the pastor permitted or expected in community life?
- How much time is the pastor permitted or expected in denominational work?
- Are there dress code expectations for the pastor in his public life, in the pulpit?
The Pastor’s Family:
- Are there evenings when a pastor can say “no” to spend time with the family?
- Are there expectations on the pastor’s children beyond those on other members?
- Are there expectations on the pastor’s spouse concerning work outside the home?
- If there is a parsonage, is the pastor expected to make it available to church activities?
- What are the expectations on the pastor’s time during the week between Christmas and New Years?
- What are the expectations concerning the pastor’s vacation? How Much? When?
- How many days off is the pastor expected to have each week?
- How many hours is the pastor expected to work each week?