As small congregations grow smaller, some of those churches hire pastors to work anywhere from ten to twenty-five hours a week. Ten hours is considered 1/5 time in my denomination. Twenty-five hours is considered 1/2 time. But preaching takes the same amount of effort each week whether you have fifty hours to work or ten. If you are a PT Pastor, how do you also fit in the pastoral care, the funerals, the meetings, the preparation, the planning, the recruiting, the training, the teaching? You can’t. I have long lived with the assumption that churches with a PT pastor cannot possibly grow. The moment they shifted to PT paid professional leadership, they were spiraling toward death. I don’t believe that anymore. What if . . .
- The weeks that the PT pastor is not preaching, she/he is using what would be sermon prep time to equip gifted members to ramp up their ministry. Teach leaders how to pray out loud with parishioners, how to do a hospital visit, how to be an effective liturgist.
- The congregation welcomed new ways to hear God’s Word by inviting leaders to share their personal testimonies about a time that they felt disappointed by God and what they learned about God in that situation or to talk about a time they felt especially close to God because of something the church did right.
- Local community leaders (the school principal, the police chief, the county mental health worker) were invited to share how they spend an ordinary week, informing the congregation of the needs in the community and how they might address those needs.
Imagine the possible growth in equipping the saints, advancing adult faith formation and articulation, and expanding missional outreach. This assumes that a church – even a small church with a PT pastor – really really wants to growth in depth and ministry. I believe many of them do. (And the rest will close soon enough.)