The Pastor's Job Description

What Should You Expect from and Encourage in your Pastor?

As someone who has been pastored in a church since 1989 and pastoring a church since 2002 on a team and 2008 as a solo pastor, I've always paid careful attention to those who give lists of what the duties of a pastor are. Here are some lists that I pray strengthen you as a supportive church member and spurs your pastor on to faithful gospel ministry.

According to D. A. Carson (For the Love of God, vol. 1, [Crossway: 1998] Nov. 2):

  • Feed (as a shepherd)

  • Defend (as a shepherd)

  • Guide (as a shepherd)

  • Discipline (as a shepherd)

  • Be mature (as an elder)

  • Be respected (as an elder)

  • Oversee (as an overseer)

  • Godly manage (as an overseer)

  • Hold in spiritual accountability (as an overseer)

According to Mark Dever (The Deliberate Church, [Crossway: 2005], 89-95):

  • Practitioner of the marks (preaching, administering the ordinances)

  • Teaching

  • Meet with staff

  • Be disciplined and stick to a workable schedule

  • Graze – feed the flock

  • Guide – direct, model, equip, and keep the flock

  • Guard – from false teachers and false teaching

  • The 4 P’s (from chapter 1) – preaching, prayer, personal discipleship relationships, and patience

This list is staggering, convicting, and clarifying. It staggers me to think about the weight of the responsibility God has on the pastor for his church. It is convicting because I see how I personally have failed. I want to pray and improve and grow in putting more of my time into teaching/preaching responsibilities, meeting with my small group leaders and training new teachers. I want to get more involved in knowing the lives of the students in my church. I also want to be in better communication with the pastoral team that I serve with, giving them weekly reports of the ministry, even if it is not asked of me. I want to seek their input and evaluation. I also want to pursue those who are straying that God has put under my care. This also clarifies my task. I need to defend the flock, discipline the unrepentant, hold them in spiritual accountability, disciple them, and most of all feed them and point them to the bread of life and living water, Jesus Christ himself.

[Also see Pastor-Elder Vows, a sample]

What are your thoughts? Are you thankful for your pastors? Do you pray for them? Do you make it easy or hard for them to shepherd and love you? If you have pastoral responsibilities, does this list help you? Why or why not?

Added lists:

Benjamin Griffith (1743) (Added 2/11/08):

  1. Preach God’s Word

  2. Watch over every member of the flock (emphasis mine)

  3. Visit the flock to know their state.

  4. Administer the ordinances (Baptism and Lord’s Supper)

  5. Pray for them

  6. Model Christlikeness

Lig Duncan’s job description as Senior Minister:

  1. Preach the Word

  2. Love the People

  3. Pray Down Heaven

  4. Promote Family Religion

  5. Train the Elders

  6. Under those 5, it is to live a godly life

PJ Tibayan (My list on the pastor-elder’s role):

  1. Prayerfully teach God’s Word (Acts 6:4)

  2. Oversee the whole flock and each individual member’s spiritual good (Hebrews 13:17)

  3. Equip the church for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11)

  4. Model godly Christian living and love for Christ (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9)

John Piper’s take on the function of Elders: The responsibilities of elders are summed up under two heads: governing and teaching.

  1. Governing (1 Timothy 5:171 Timothy 3:4-5Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:21 Thessalonians 5:12Hebrews 13:17

  2. Teaching (Ephesians 4:111 Timothy 3:21 Timothy 5:17Titus 1:9)

  3. Conclusion: The function of elders may be summed up under two heads: teaching and governing. They are the doctrinal guardians of the flock and the overseers of the life of the church responsible to God for the feeding and care and ministry of the people.

Other resources:

  1. The Desiring God staff’s description of the role of the elder.

  2. The Gospel Coalition has resources on the topics of “eldership” and “pastoral ministry

  3. 9Marks has a bunch of good articles and audio resources (see more categories on that page) on the topic.