Part 3 in a Series on Leading the Smaller Membership Church


There are two great challenges in being the pastor of a smaller church.  (1) You need to be a generalist. The fact is that unless you have many people with leadership gifts, flexibility of schedule and persons to whom you can responsibly delegate the authority needed to get a job done effectively, you will have your hands in many different aspects of the churches ministry.  (2) You have no daily supervisor–you’re your own supervisor.  There is no one to oversee your work of your work day and so you’re pretty much on your own with priorities and projects.

In this situation, self-discipline and self-initiative are critical.  Here are just a few things that I have learned which are critical disciplines for an effective smaller church pastor.

Begin your day with time alone with the Lord.  A quiet time to set your mind by looking to the Word and communicating with God will help keep you on track for the day and set your priorities.

Have a plan for each day.  You need a prioritized plan for the day within a prioritized plan for the week, otherwise you will go through the day reacting instead of pro-acting and often will find that the truly important things remain undone (and behind).  If you need help on this, email me and I will send you a brief booklet called Planning the Pastor’s Day.

Keep “office” hours. Even if it is a virtual office (like in the local Panera’s) or in your home, have a set time when you do your administrative work, phone calling, planning,  You can always be reachable by phone, just as you would be in a real office and communicate with your people that this is the best time to reach you.


Develop a simple but dependable system of keeping records of your activities, contact information, commitments, people contacts and update it daily.  As you are running around through the day from task to task, it is easy to promise something you may forget to deliver.  (Hint: If someone has a conversation and they want a follow up or if they want to make an appointment, have them email you and each day you add that into your plan.)

Manage your social media:  Email, Facebook, Twitter and even text messages have a way of seducing us into spending an inordinate amount of time (and wasting time).  Set a time or times, each day (but no more than three or four) when you use these tools and stick with it.  The one exception may be texts.  Often a quickly responded to text can save you work or interruptions later.

Do not neglect your family:  There must be dependable and daily time for your family.  The scripture is VERY clear that we must manage our households well.quote-decision-making-takes-care-of-goal-setting-but-discipline-also-takes-care-of-goal-getting-john-c-maxwell-70-11-91

People come first–but not always:  People are more important than programs, many of meetings or “the stuff we like to do.”  But learn to set boundaries on who gets your time, how much time they get, and for what reasons or they will eat up everything (this is especially true of counseling).  Again, having dependable and public office hours will help this.

I am sure others have suggestions and I’d love to hear them,  Our next post is Building an Elder Team in the Smaller Church.

© 2018  by Stephen L. Dunn.  You have permission to reprint this provided it is unchanged, proper authorship is cited, it is in a publication not for sale, and a link is provided to this site or to For all other uses, contact Steve at 

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