Senior Pastor Job Description: Duties, Future, and Salary

A senior pastor is a person that leads the church. He must have a master’s degree in divinity. He should have experience as an associate pastor with five years’ preaching experience.


Senior Pastor Job Duties

In Portraits of a Pastor by Jason K. Allen and Jared C. Wilson, the authors said, “This…and it centers as a great pastoral commission and it centers not on building a large ministry or casting a large vision. The …point number one: Shepherds feed their sheep.”

Feeding the sheep requires wearing many hats. Here are the responsibilities of a senior pastor:

  1. Leader – Understands and implements the church’s mission to make disciples from members in the congregation.
  2. Elder – Serves as a visionary and ensures the members are challenged and prepared to be obedient to God’s word.
  3. Manager – Overseas outreach and pastoral care.
  4. Director – Performs services for all occasions including weddings, christening, baptisms and funeral services.
  5. Community Activist – Cooperates with the local association and state officials to support the work of cooperative programs.
  6. Supervisor – Focuses on staff development and assists the ministerial staff by providing the resources necessary to fulfill their duties.
  7. Innovator – Demonstrates analytical abilities and transforms data into information that becomes an opportunity.

Salary of a Senior Pastor

As of May 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the mean annual wage for clergy was $49,450. However, Salary.com reported the medial pay was $93,154 as of October 2017. Other salary-related statistics include the following.

Industries with the highest employment rates/jobs.

  • Religious organizations – 24,620
  • Hospitals – 7,720
  • Home healthcare – 5,550

States with highest number of jobs.

  • New York – 8,490
  • California – 8,210
  • Oregon – 4,660

Federal executive positions pay $35.78 per hour. Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals have pastoral positions offering salaries of $26.57/hour. State government positions pay $26.57/hour


Trends in Church Staffing

Social media has impacted the way that churches communicate with their flock. Other key trends include:

  • Church staff willing to pay more for high-quality job applicants. Fewer dedicated staff has promises long-term gains.
  • “Hot” jobs like executive pastor and campus pastor are key roles that assists senior pastors with disciplinarian and administrative responsibilities.
  • Recruiting emphasizes looking from within the congregation as well as outside the church. Sometimes promoting from within is not healthy. New members may add a fresh perspective.

 Job Outlook for Senior Pastor Positions

senior pastor job description

The Hartford Center For Religion Research said, “Current data suggests that as the number of small churches expand and the majority of church goers flock to larger mega churches that the structure of opportunity for clergy are shifting.”

However, political events, school violence and wars have opened new opportunities. The senior pastor positions are expected to rise 2 percent in next ten years.

Today’s senior pastor position is multifaceted. He must be flexible, smart and compassionate. Most importantly, he must be a child of God with a desire to lead the sheep.