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Job Descriptions for Senior Pastor

by Adele Burney, studioD

Senior pastors carry a large responsibility on their shoulders. Not unlike managers and CEOs of a large corporation, senior pastors guide individuals to carry out a vision and a mission. In the case of a senior pastor, the mission and vision are set by the church. The guiding document is the Bible, and many of the workers are unpaid and voluntary. Choosing a career as a pastor offers you both worldly and spiritual rewards.


A senior pastor performs many duties outside of speaking from the pulpit. While presenting and writing sermons is a large part of the job, there is much more. As a senior pastor you will work with the church elders and administrative staff to ensure that church operations run smoothly. This includes maintenance, staffing, youth programs, adult Bible studies, mission work, and event scheduling. A senior pastor also officiates at weddings and funerals, and represents the church during community events. Senior pastors visit sick parishioners and work with hospital and prison populations. Pastors also spend time counseling parishioners and educating them in spiritual matters.

Skills Needed

Communication is the cornerstone of this career, and if you are seeking a career in this field you must possess superior communication skills. Although it is not considered a business career, a senior pastor uses the same skills as a corporate manager. You must work with elders of the church, who are not unlike a board of directors. Pastors must display organizational and leadership skills in their work as they plan out schedules and activities for staff and volunteers. Senior pastors also must possess a great deal of patience, as sometimes they must sit for hours ministering to the sick. A successful senior pastor must also be charismatic, since part of the job is to bring people into the church.


Every denomination and faith possesses a different set of requirements for clergy members. For example, some churches do not allow women to become pastors or ministers. Some churches, such as the Catholic church, require pastors to be unmarried while others look for pastors with families. Some similarities do exist across the denominations. A degree in divinity or theology is usually a requirement in many churches. To be a successful candidate, you must also possess a love of religion and divinity and be willing to serve on behalf of the church. Letters of recommendation from prior congregations or educators are also a requirement in some religious organizations.

Becoming a Senior Pastor

The majority of pastors pursue theological studies during college and commit to a life of servitude to the church at this time. Pursuing a master’s degree in theological studies may also help to advance your rise in the church. Embarking on an evangelical career path will eventually put you in the position of potentially becoming a senior pastor. Being an active member of a church family will also assist you in securing a position as pastor and rising through the ranks to become senior. Many ministers start out as youth counselors or ministers, which helps prepare them for a pastor position. This is also a good way for the congregation to get to know a new pastor and helps the church elders determine if the candidate is senior pastor material.

About the Author

Adele Burney started her writing career in 2009 when she was a featured writer in "Membership Matters," the magazine for Junior League. She is a finance manager who brings more than 10 years of accounting and finance experience to her online articles. Burney has a degree in organizational communications and a Master of Business Administration from Rollins College.

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