- Jim Townsley
- Dec 27, 2011
The ministry is just that, a ministry. Most people work a forty hour week at their job, but church planters cannot build churches working merely forty hours a week. The ministry requires being on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I have had calls literally every hour of the night. Most were legitimate, but some could have easily waited for a reasonable hour. Every preacher must make himself accessible. People have spiritual needs that often require immediate attention. The souls of men are at stake.
In addition, a church planter must be prepared to work long hours and he and his wife must be flexible with their schedule. Not only does the ministry require that the preacher be on call night and day, but there will be many seasons of extended long hours. The evening hours are the most usable times for meetings and visitation. The evening is when people are generally home. Also, there are revival meetings, Bible conferences, missions conferences, youth meetings, camps, and youth rallies. There are a multitude of activities that will require your time, especially in the evening.
Starting a church requires a serious commitment to soul-winning. My six month goal was to be out knocking on doors at least forty hours a week. This does not include lunch or any other breaks. In order to be visiting forty hours a week there must be many additional duties attended to when you are least capable of soul winning. Some of these chores can be done early in the morning or late at night or on days when it rains. In order to accomplish the needed soul-winning required in the early stages of the new church, the preacher may work as many as one hundred hours a week.
Living requires a lot of time. There are meals to fix, car repairs, phone messages, registering your car, acquiring health insurance, and a multitude of other tasks. These things all require a lot of time. Then there are the duties connected with starting the church. Coordinating visiting groups, feeding them, preparing maps and other supplies. Coordinating the printing and advertizing. Preparing signs, buying gifts for visitors, and printing visitor cards and decision cards.
While starting our new church I am sure that I spent every waking minute toward that end, sleeping no more than six hours a night. One hundred hours a week for several weeks became a routine. This great work cannot be done in a forty hour work week. Sermons can be prepared ahead of time so that studying for the first six months can be minimized. Studying and counseling will gradually increase and crowd out your visiting time. This is one reason it is so important to spend the first six months of the new church visiting as much as possible. There will never be another time in your ministry where you will have this opportunity to do so much soul-winning.
I realize that the preacher has a wife and perhaps children. There must be the understanding that there will be some sacrifice for the first few months. Neglecting a man's family must not be done. The preacher's wife can go visiting with him. Children can also go out visiting with their dad. The whole family can help in some way to stuff envelopes or mailings or prepare meals. Everyone in the family must recognize their importance to this new ministry. If a man's family does not understand this, he will certainly face problems in the near future.
This may seem unreasonable, but virtually every new business starts the same way. There are many sacrifices early on and eventually the schedule will more reasonable. However, the ministry is still a twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week ministry. A forty hour work week will never be sufficient for building a ministry. With this kind of routine it will become important to take off extended time just to allow your body and mind to recover.
The ministry, though demanding, is a labor of love. Most of my preacher friends will attest to the satisfaction they derive from doing God's work. There is nothing like it in all the world. There are seasons of trials and struggles, but here are also seasons of reaping great rewards. Some day when we meet in heaven, we will be rewarded. We will know that it has been worth it all.