Dr. Thom S. Rainer, the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, conducted a survey about the number of hours pastors work in a typical week. [Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.]
Here is the article by Dr. Rainer–
It is one of the most unpredictable jobs one could have. There will be weeks when there won’t be much taking place out of the ordinary, and the pastor will work a “mere” 40 to 45 hours. There will be other weeks filled with meetings, emergency hospital calls, a wedding, two funerals, and line of members waiting to see the pastor. That workweek could total 80 hours.
So we surveyed pastors on Twitter and asked them a simple question: How many average hours do you work a week, including sermon preparation? Though we asked for an average, most responded with a range. We thus took the midpoint of the range they submitted. We also asked this question only of fulltime vocational pastors.
Five years ago, LifeWay Research asked a similar question. The primary difference in the question was that their survey included pastors who were not paid fulltime as well. Of course, the LifeWay Research study was a scientific poll, while my Twitter poll was informal.
Here are the results of the two polls:
| 2013 Twitter Poll
| 2008 LifeWay Research Poll
(Part-Time & Full-Time Pastors)
|Less than 40 hours
|70 hours or more
Here are some of my observations:
- The two polls cannot be compared directly. One includes fulltime pastors only. The other includes both fulltime and part-time pastors. Also, the LifeWay Research poll of 2008 is scientifically validated, and is thus much more likely to be accurate.
- Surprisingly, the median workweek for pastors is the same in both surveys: 50 hours. That means the average workweek is greater than 50 hours for half of the pastors, and less than 50 hours for half of the pastors.
- Some pastors indicated their workweek hours but excluded sermon preparation time. They were not included in the survey.
- I strongly suspect that the 16% of pastors who worked less than 40 hours a week in the 2008 survey were part-time pastors. There aren’t many fulltime vocational pastors working less than 40 hours.
- Most pastors have trouble estimating their average workweek because each week is so unpredictable. The nature of a pastor’s job is on-call 24/7.
- One respondent had an interesting take on a pastor’s workweek. He said that pastors should be expected to work 40 hours plus the amount of time a committed member gives to the church. He estimates a committed member will give at least 8 hours a week, so the typical workweek should be 48 hours (40+8). That number is very close to the median workweek of all pastors.