Pastor Considerations For Finding The Right Church
In most churches, the pastor is the primary person responsible for overseeing the preaching, teaching and direction of the church. Naturally, the pastor is a very important person for you to take into consideration when looking for a new church.
Being a pastor is a tough job, and all pastor’s have unique paths and callings to their position in life. So with that being said, we’re going to take a look at some major topics you might want to consider about your potential new pastor while visiting a church.
Pastoral Education, Ordination, Titles, and Qualifications
It is important to note that there is no particular legal licensing or any other universal oversight that might prevent someone from being called a “pastor”, unlike other professions, such as that for lawyers, physicians or teachers. In reality, a person can become a “pastor” simply by self-declaring themselves to be one!
Depending on the denomination (or lack there of) pastors of a church may have varying degrees of education. Some denominations require pastors to have relatively high levels of education, such as a Masters of Divinity (M.Div.), which is a three-year postgraduate degree. Some pastors may even have doctorate degrees.
Other churches and denominations may have pastors with varying levels of undergraduate or graduate education. Pastors may also have no formal college education at all, depending on the church.
If the educational background of the pastor is important to you, you may be able to find clues to the pastor’s background on the website.
An “ordained minister” means that an organization, such as a denomination, has determined that the pastor meets the spiritual, emotional and educational standards they deem necessary to hold the highest level of leadership in a local church, and has thus put their “stamp of approval” on that particular pastor after a period of candidacy.In some denominations, ordination requires high levels of education and years of accountability. In others, ordination may be bestowed without any such requirements.
You may even be aware that ordination papers suitable for performing weddings can even be obtained easily online. So just because someone describes themselves as being “ordained”, that phrase alone doesn’t necessarily mean anything. A person could have worked for years to achieve their ordination status, or they may have obtained it in minutes online.
Again, if that kind of outside accountability is important to you, discover if that information is available on the website or other places where information about the church can be found.
Again, depending completely on the church and organization, the ministerial leader of the church may be referred to as “pastor”, “reverend”, “minister”, “priest”, “father”, “rector”, “bishop”, just for starters. Be sure to investigate however possible what these terms mean exactly. These terms often vary in meaning from denomination to denomination. If in doubt, simply search for what these terms might mean within a particular denomination.
Some pastors may use the term “lead pastor”, “senior pastor” or any other titles to indicate that they are the highest level ministerial leader. This typically occurs when there are other people on staff, such as an “associate pastor” or “youth pastor” who deals with more specialized areas primarily.
Other Staff At A Church
Some churches may have expansive professional staffing, while others may have no paid employees, including the pastor. Generally, the larger the staff, the larger the general size of the church. Typically, church staff will be divided into two areas:
These are the staff members that are primarily responsible for the day to day operation of the church and it’s facilities. This might included administrative directors, who manage the church office, scheduling, and serve in a administrative assistant role for the pastors and staff. Many churches will have also have custodial staff/groundskeepers.
Another common position to see starting in medium-size churches are financial directors. In smaller churches, some or all of these roles may be fulfilled entirely by volunteers. Depending on the size and scope of the church, one may also find any number of other administratively focused staff, such as IT workers, web-masters, and audio-visual technicians.
Nearly all churches have at least one pastor, while larger churches may have one or more. Again, senior or lead pastors are usually the person at the highest level of leadership. Other churches may have co-pastors, who share leadership responsibilities at the highest level. Churches with lots of staff may also have an “executive pastor” who primarily serves in a managerial role over other staff.
The most common ministerial staff at a church might include specialized staff for worship, children’s ministries, and youth (teenage) ministries. Again, the larger the church, the more specialized the staff tends to become. For example, larger churches may have entire departments dedicated entirely to children’s ministry.
Depending on the church, members of the ministerial staff may also have titles, such as “youth pastor” or “worship minister”, and support ministerial staff may have ordination credentials themselves.
The topic of the various staff one might encounter at a church is very expansive, but if the people who work for a church are important for you, then I hope this article will help you get started in your search for information while church shopping.
Up Next – A Step By Step Guide To Visiting A Church Near You
To finish off this article, we’re going to pass along some “best practices” for visiting and evaluating a new church, and encourage you to keep these steps in mind during your visit.
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