How Many Weekends Should a Pastor Preach?

How many times do you expect your pastor to speak on the weekends at your church? I am assuming your pastor gets to take some time off for vacation and rest, but is he supposed to be in the pulpit each of the other Sundays?

When I became the pastor here at New Life, I asked my mentors, who were also pastors of churches, what was a reasonable expectation, considering all of the other resposibilities that go with the vocation and calling of pastor. I also asked my elders to weigh in. We all decided that I should teach at least 36-38 Sundays. For the past five years, I have done just that.

Typically, I am here at my church for long stretches in Janauary and February, during the Easter season, in September and October and always at Christmas. Those are priority times for the lead pastor, in my opinion. If I am invited to speak at other places, I schedule those trips away from the busy seasons so I can focus my attention at home.

I try to take time off during the summer months and during holidays like Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day. These are times I give my staff the pulpit. They are all great communicators and the church needs to hear their voices. I also try to schedule our Overseers to speak at least once a year so our church can hear from the men who give us counsel.

So far, this has been a healthy rhythm for me and for New Life. I have space once a month to read, study and decompress from the weekly schedule of sermon prep. It also gives me space to focus during the week on being a pastor to the people in our congregation and allows more time at work for key meetings. It makes the Sundays I am here much better and it keeps me far from the cliff of burnout.

What do you expect from your pastor? Are our expectations and demands actually harming the pastors we love so much? Will you come to church if “someone else” is preaching? Let the conversation begin.

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15 Comments

  1. When I interim preach I try and follow a sabbath rhytm. 6 on, 1 off. It works very well if made a priority.

  2. I used to be less inclined to go too church if Pastor Jimmy Evans wasn’t going to be there at Trinity that weekend, but once I started going to listen to those guest speakers, and I’ve come to welcome the teaching of our guests, and Pastor Jimmy Witcher and Pastor Matt.

    I think if God has blessed you with a good team then it’s healthy for all to share the pulpit. It gives the head pastor a much needed break and gives the congregation a chance to hear a fresh voice that might be able to reach to different people.

    Even the early church did it, in Acts it was Peter, then it was Paul,

  3. (wasn’t done…)

    Thus might sound petty, but the sermons are better when a pastor is refreshed.

    I’m ste not all people see it this way, but when Ps. Witcher explained, Ps. Evans schedule, I thought to myself, “Go! You DESERVE a vacation!” I don’t think a lot if people in the church realize what a head pastor had to do. There’s way more to it then getting up on Sunday morning and speaking for 45 minutes.

  4. Because of my deep admiration and love for Pastors…I share. As newlyweds Dean and I were at pilot training in Lubbock TX. During that year our senior pastor was killed in a small plane crash, while laying hands on others in the plane who survived. During that time, The Spirit of God spoke to me that no one is indispensable in the kingdom of God. I appreciate anyone who Pastors and leads, but Jesus is the main attraction, the Master of Ceremonies, The Chief Shepherd, the Pastor of all Pastors. So as long as He is in the House…all is well. I mean God can speak through a donkey…..a burning bush…..Healthy Pastors raise up healthy sheep. My humor is returning after this grief stretch….so I don’t mean to be to flippant…but sometimes we take ourselves too seriously. Thanks again for all that you do and to the other Pastors at NLC as well.

  5. (these thoughts just keep coming)

    Ps. Jimmy Evans did a video series this summer (4 week pre-recorded series) on the End Times, and I think that was great because the congregation still gets teaching from the leader if the church, but he/she gets a break. And once again when it was first announced I was like, “Aw man, I don’t wanna watch a a sermon on the big screen.” And the Holy Spirit asked me, “Isn’t that what you do when he is here, is watch him on the big screen anyway? How is this any different?” “Oh yea….. Touche Holy Spirit you got me on that one.”

  6. Wise counsel Pastor. I have never had any “set time” to do this, but after reading this, I am encouraged to look at this.

    Thank you.

    Marty

  7. If I could take 16 weeks vacation each year and still get paid the same, I would do it. The church elders agreed to this and felt it was the best way, so who am I to disagree? As long as the congregation is pointed towards Jesus Christ as our ONLY Savior and Lord, it is good. That’s the main message anyway. Thank you for everything you do. It is much appreciated!

  8. I absolutely agree with and respect your preaching rhythm, currently our church is doing 3 on 1 off and previously would be determined by series and time of year.

    A few questions in this regard:

    1) How often (and what occasions) to do speak at New Life outside of Sunday morning?

    2) How many invitations to other churches/conferences
    do you generally take during the year?

    Thank you for setting a great example.

  9. Another few questions:

    1) How does this mentality work into effect with regards to how often the lead worship pastor is leading and not?

    2) Are there any topics that you reserve for yourself or on the other hand prefer to be taught by others?

  10. Balance is everything and it seems like you are very intentional with this whole subject. If anyone argues with this it is only because they love hearing your sermons and the sermons touch their heart. What a compliment. Giving our other wonderful pastors (who could have their own churches, as for as I am concerned) an opportunity to share their hearts and wisdom is refreshing and I believe helps our church be more well rounded. Thank you for thinking this through and providing the leadership you do.

  11. I have a few questions that I feel will help me and others understand the 16 weeks off better.
    1. When you say 16 weeks, is it actually 16 weeks or 16 Sundays?
    This makes a big difference as to how your vacation time is perceived. If it is actually 16 weeks, that is a rather long period of time for the leader of the church to be away, especially when it is all taken at generally the same time. If it is 16 Sundays, that is understandable and well within reason.
    2. How much of that time is actual free time and how much is spent speaking elsewhere or at seminars and conferences?
    This also makes a rather large difference. If 10 of those 16 weeks is complete free time, again that seems like a rather long period of time for the our leader to be away. If it is the other way around, again it is much more understandable and reasonable.
    3. When you are requested to speak elsewhere, does the church receive compensation or payment for it? Is it a source of income for the church?
    If this is even a minor source of income for the church the 16 weeks becomes easier to understand, especially when it is providing a measure of productivity for the church and essentially helps the church, thereby helping the congregation.

    I know and understand that the responsibilities of the pastor can be a heavy load and that some time off is necessary. However, I feel that it is important for the lead pastor to be at church Sunday mornings as often as possible. If the lead pastor feels that it would be better or more beneficial to the congregation for someone else to take the pulpit, there is nothing wrong with that, however, I think that the lead pastor should still be there whenever possible. In this way, the lead pastor demonstrates good leadership qualities in a visible fashion, that serve to reinforce the messages of his sermons and more importantly, it fosters greater trust and respect amongst the congregation for their pastor. I expect that the lead pastor will lead from the front and not the rear.

    The 2nd question that you asked seems to be begging-the-question, so I will not answer it and move on.

    I will and do come to church if I know someone else is speaking, however, I am vastly more likely to not come to church if I know that someone else instead of Pastor Brady is here to teach. I love and enjoy listening and learning from your sermons. However, it is not a bad thing to allow someone else to take the pulpit every now and again, under your leadership.

    I hope to see you at church again soon.

    God bless and thank you,
    Matt

  12. I most certainly will still come to church and listen to a sermon even if someone else is speaking. I believe that God puts different people in our lives to teach us different things that God wants us to know. It isn’t always up to the pastor to communicate the things that God wants us to know in our lives! I enjoy listening to Pastor Brady, but I do agree that you need time off to collect your thoughts and to have time with your family!

  13. I love Pastor Brady. Pastor Brady is an excellent speaker and educator on God’s Word. I also love it when others preach. Other speakers contribute a different perspective and style. Our focus should be on the Word of God and not on the person speaking. I think if we get stuck on one person, it could lead to following the person instead of following God.

    I love coming to New Life Church! I am free to worship, learn, and enjoy the fellowship of other Christians.

    God Bless Pastor Brady and all the people that serve at New Life Church.

    Becky

  14. Matt, I’m sure he means 16 Sundays.
    I say do the work of the Pastor as Pastor. When a Pastor feels like they need to be abroad more and cannot fulfill duties as Pastor, then empower someone who is ready for that season.
    The Church (at large, not just NLC) needs people that will really serve the ministry as Pastors. Connecting with people one on one. Guiding them through hardships. Being there for them and truly discipling them. When the role of a Pastor becomes more of a “figurehead” or lead speaker, the calling is pushed to the wayside, and the “Pastor” might as well let someone else carry that position so as to not discourage the flock by their absence of Pastoral duties.
    I’ve always been a part of churches that have traveling ministers. As a member of the church, I don’t mind at all that they/you travel, and really don’t care how much they travel. As long as they’re truly accessible as my Pastor.
    From the Pastor to the volunteer, to the attendee, we ALL come to the Lord’s house to honor Him. As long as we’re being good stewards of this mission and fulfilling what He’s called us to, then I think there should be freedom to minister however the Lord leads.

  15. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

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