We are indeed. The median SBC church will have 70 souls in average weekly worship attendance this coming Sunday which means that around 25,000 SBC churches have a pastor who looks out when he preaches at no more than a few dozen hearers. The pastor almost certainly is the only clergy staff member in the church although he may have a part time paid or volunteer music leader, student or children leader.
This would be the place where there is a church of people who all know each other.
This would be the place where there is a single pastor and no one else who has the title “pastor.”
The Single Staff Pastor…and he is the stalwart hero of Southern Baptist churches and, therefore, of the Southern Baptist Convention. That and five bucks or so will get him a cup of Starbucks.
It’s not that multi-staff, multi-site, multi-millions in budget, megachurch, megapastor, megastaff are unimportant. An increasing share of SBC members and revenues come from such churches.
It’s not that the vast army of lay volunteers who actually run the church and the church ministries are unimportant. We are not sacerdotalists, after all and unpaid volunteers do most of the actual ministry.
The single staff church is the most common type of church in the SBC and the lone clergy staff of that church, The Pastor, is the most common in the SBC.
Sometimes, he is the most underappreciated.
Most of our trained clergy will spend most if not all of their ministry as a single staff pastor. We can’t all be megapastors nor should we aspire to that.
Almost all SBC clergy will have at one time or another served a single staff church.
Almost all SBC denominational leaders will have served in a single staff church, even if only for a short time. If this ever changes it will be for the worse for all of us.
The single staff pastor will likely be paid below what LifeWay says is the average salary for full time SBC pastors and that for his entire ministry. Some will do better. Some will do worse. It’s modest pay.
The single staff pastor will never store up for himself a great accumulation of retirement benefits unless his wife is able to find a good job with benefits.
The single staff pastor has little chance of being elected to any position of prominence in the state conventions or SBC and this mainly, and wrongly, because being seen as single-staff guy or small church guy is code for “not much of an achiever.” The chances are above zero for him but not by much. And being elected second or third VP of anything in the SBC isn’t worth squat.
The single staff pastor likely knows the stress of church finances better than the larger, multi-staff church pastors , since large and megachurches do well in picking up the better giving families who transfer membership from smaller to larger churches. This is a clear trend I’m told.
The single staff pastor likely has to endure more of the petty issues in the church, stuff like the temperature of the sanctuary, height of the grass, and which class gets which room.
The single staff pastor isn’t likely to be asked to preach at conferences, since it’s not much of a draw to have single staff guys at these events.
The single staff pastor is more likely to be forced to resign or be pressured to resign a church probably for no fault of his own. He is not just the biggest target for critics in a church but the only target.
The single staff pastor with sufficient tenure is the key person in setting the attitude and personality of the congregation. Most of the time it is for good, not ill.
The single staff pastor with sufficient tenure will be the one who keeps a church on track with Cooperative Program giving and the mission offerings, even though he isn’t trying to impress the SBC oligarchy and get a job, title, or larger church.
The single staff pastor likely has to address more issues with his spouse and kids and the church than larger church pastors. He learns how to handle this with time. Sometimes it can be ugly for his family.
The single staff pastor doesn’t have a hat rack large enough for all the hats he has to wear as pastor.
The single staff pastor is more likely to declare, “They didn’t tell me in seminary I would be doing this kind of stuff” along with “I wasn’t prepared for this.”
The single staff pastor has to be a generalist and have knowledge, skills, and experience in every area of church life. Sometimes his members presume him to be a specialist in every possible church-related job and ministry.
The single staff pastor gets to see generations of people impacted by his ministry.
The single staff pastor looks at his few dozen congregants on Sunday and knows exactly what issues they are facing as individuals. He doesn’t read reports from church experts to know what his congregation is facing.
The single staff pastor knows his folks well enough to judge by their casual comment when shaking his hand after Sunday worship if there is something afoot in their lives that he might need to ask about or help with.
Anybody can be a single staff pastor…right?
This is a retread, so sue me.