Duties of a UM pastor

What does a United Methodist pastor do?

Well, here is what he or she is responsible to do according to our Book of Discipline:

  1. To preach the Word of God, lead in worship, read and teach the Scriptures, and engage the people in study and witness.
  2. To counsel persons with personal, ethical, or spiritual struggles.
  3. To perform the ecclesial acts of marriage and burial.
  4. To visit in the homes of the church and the community, especially among the sick, aged, imprisoned, and others in need.
  5. To maintain all confidences inviolate, including confessional confidences except in the cases of suspected child abuse or neglect, or in cases where mandatory reporting is required by civil law.
  6. To administer the sacraments of baptism and the Supper of the Lord according to Christ’s ordinance.
  7. To encourage the private and congregational use of the other means of grace.
  8. To be administrative officer of the local church and to assure that the organizational concerns of the congregation are adequately provided for.
  9. To administer the temporal affairs of the church in their appointment, the annual conference, and the general church.
  10. To participate in denominational and conference programs and training opportunities.
  11. To lead the congregation in racial and ethnic inclusiveness.
  12. To embody the teachings of Jesus in servant ministries and servant leadership.
  13. To give diligent pastoral leadership in ordering the life of the congregation for discipleship in the world.
  14. To build the body of Christ as a caring and giving community, extending the ministry of Christ to the world.
  15. To participate in community, ecumenical, and inter-religious concerns and to encourage the people to become so involved and to pray and labor for the unity of the Christian community.
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7 thoughts on “Duties of a UM pastor

    1. What I find interesting about this list is that it sounds “old fashioned”. It doesn’t sound anything like “The pastor is the CEO of a successful charitable enterprise that attracts and retains members through an exciting program of spiritual pursuits” which is more like what US denominations seem to be encouraging their pastors to be.

      1. Your observation is a good one, Pam. It is probably more a sign that the Book of Disicpline has only limited influence on shaping our understanding of the pastor’s role.

  1. What should happen to a Pastor that does not live up to this standard…say one that violates a confidence. Should all conversations (except the ones about abuse, etc) be considered in confidence?

    1. Jay, I’m not certain about the exact definition of “a confidence” versus casual conversation. A confidence implies to me something told the pastor specifically in the pastor’s role as spiritual leader and counselor.

      A confidence is by definition something that is offered with the expectation that it will be kept secret.

      I would not think that everything a person tells a pastor should be “a confidence.” That said, though, a pastor should not go about gossiping or spreading stories, even if they are not confidences.

      As for consequences, the betrayed person can certainly go to the pastor and the church pastor parish relations committee and/or the DS, probably in that order.

      I do not have my Book of Discipline handy, so I do not know if betraying a confidence rises to the level of a chargeable offense. It is certainly not a good thing.

      That is what I would do.

      1. I shared some concerns with her and she has shared them in a way that was not reflective of the conversations, using words that were not my own. After I questioned her sharing of those conversations, she performed a criminal background check and shared most of the details of that check (leaving out the fact that it was all dismissed). I am just at a complete loss, and was seeking answers before this evening’s Pastor Parrish meeting.

        1. Jay, this sounds like one of those issues that requires personal knowledge to provide useful counsel.

          Be honest. Be humble. Be open to other interpretations. Pray and listen for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

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