I have been Senior Pastor of Nowra City Church for nearly 14 years. I love it. Before that I was the Pastor of Administration at Citipointe Church Brisbane and before that, Pastor of Administration at Lighthouse Church in Wollongong. So over the 23 years of being a Pastor in various roles – here are my top ten challenges I have found of being a Pastor.
1) Journeying with people and their families through a terminal illness diagnosis’s, treatment and in some (not all) cases, death. This is the same for people who are going through a marriage breakdown, or any large challenge that people go through. My heart breaks for them.
2) Doing a funeral for someone I cared deeply about.
3) Everyone has an opinion on what I as a Pastor should or shouldn’t do, how I should or shouldn’t live (even where I should or shouldn’t holiday), what theology I should or shouldn’t have, what opinions I should or shouldn’t have and what I should or shouldn’t say, or post or tweet. And a lot of people like to share their opinion with me – particularly if I am not living up to their expectation.
4) Crafting a sermon that will feed a Christian that has been in the church 20 years at the same time as feeding a Christian who has been in the church 20 days. Taking into account communication styles that speak to Young Adults, Young Families, Middle Aged People and Older People: all in 25 minutes.
5) I can never really say what I really want to. People at times leave Nowra City Church and can say all manner of things about me or the church – and apparently it is inappropriate to ring them up and tell them what I think of them – or take out a mafia hit on them ( just kidding). Not just ex members – people on Social Media, members of the local community who send me hate letters etc. Apparently the social convention is that anyone can sling as much mud toward me as they want – and I have to just take it. That’s a tough gig.
6) Balancing the demands on my time.
7) Being accused of being “all about money” when my passion for offerings comes out of a genuine heart to impact people’s lives through the resources that are released. (Pastors don’t work on commission – i.e. the bigger the offering the bigger the take home pay that week.)
8) Watching people walk away from God despite our passionate follow up.
9) Operating a church in a increasingly hostile environment.
10) Coming up with a list of 10 Challenges of being a Pastor – when really I only could think of 9.
I am not being negative on Pastoring. I love it. But with any career or calling there are things you love and things that present a challenge. These are the things that present a challenge.
Ps Peter Pilt
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I can relate to some of those in my own journey leading a Christian media organization. Especially 5, 6 & 7… Especially 5. I always think being a pastor is a tough calling and one that many people don’t appreciate. Good on you for sticking with it for so long – especially when I know you could choose many other options.
Pete , it has been a wonderful experience having you as my pastor for so many years, and even though at times I have disagreed with some things you have said to me , I still like you as a friend and my pastor and I think you are the best pastor I have ever had, and I hope that you will be at NCC for many years to come, you and your family will always have my full unwavering support
Thanks Peter for this list. It is refreshing to know that these are the same kinds of challenges I face as a minister. Although, I haven’t received hate mail much yet, so maybe I need to get my sermons a little more firey. 😉
Pete, just mention gay marriage in your sermon. The hate mail will come. lol
Pastoral ministry is full of tensions, the beauty of the responsibility contrasted with personal frustration. Obviously, it should lead us to a humility before God as he alone is able but often we lean on our own strength.
You are doing a great job as pastor Pete. I am so pleased that you are not perfect as that would be boring. Don’t give heed to the word of man, only to the word of God – at the end of the day that is what will truly matter 🙂
Hi Peter could I commend you for the honesty and courage in making such statements
It’s a good wake up call for those wanting to go into ministry for the glitz and the glamour of preaching on Sundays. I don’t know if I will ever go full time ministry although it’s still an option but I am getting a taste of some of these struggles as I do the work on a part time basis here. Especially on 3, 5, 7, 8, 9.
My impression from the pews, is that pasturing looks hard, but, but is even harder than it looks, with hidden difficulties that I suspect but do not know.
Nevertheless I am sure there are deep satisfactions and joys in the role as well..
Thank you for your transparency, and for your industry in devising creative ways to keep the attention on the Word of God. That is no small thing in this world of iPhones and social media etc!
I was inspired by your approach to preaching: the boldness and color. Well done!