Family pastors are responsible for ministering to and building relationships with the families in their church. They work with the family as a unit, as opposed to other pastors who work with individual members of the family. They do so in a variety of ways in order to communicate the message of the church to their intended audience in a way that is relevant and timely.
Family pastors oversee a ministry that reaches a broad age group, and thus must coordinate classes and events with each member of the family in mind. They can develop a curriculum that teaches parents how to relate positively to their children, encourages teenagers to resist negative lifestyle choices and teaches parents and children how to communicate with one another.
Family pastors may also serve as counselors to the families in their church that are experiencing difficulties within their homes. They organize family events, such as church picnics, family game nights, retreats and conferences. Family pastors work with a team of volunteers to ensure the success of their ministry, and thus must be comfortable providing leadership and direction to a group of individuals.
They must also be willing to work on a team of pastoral and church staff members, governing boards and committees to ensure the ministry responsibilities of their church will be met. The family pastor should be comfortable developing and maintaining a budget and organizing an office, and should adhere to church policies and any state laws that affect the family ministry area.
Family pastors work in a church environment, which means that they will often work nontraditional work hours, including nights and weekends. They may also be “on call” to counsel families in emergency situations, such as an accident or death of a loved one. While they primarily work in an office setting, family pastors are also involved in the community in which they reside, and are found at community events promoting the ministries of their church.
Many family pastors have at least a bachelor’s degree in an area related to their field, such as biblical counseling, Christian education or religious studies. Churches often desire a family pastor to have a master’s degree from a divinity school or seminary. Smaller churches in rural locations may not require a degree before hiring a family pastor, but will look for someone who has experience working in the area of family ministry or in a position closely related to it, such as a children’s ministry.
Family pastors can advance in their careers through promotion to head pastor. This is often attainable after several years of experience combined with an advanced degree. Some family pastors pursue an academic position after completing a post-graduate degree. Others choose to work in an administrative role within their church governing body. Certain family pastors find success as authors and lecturers in the area of family ministry.
Salary and Career Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that that median annual wage for clergy members, including family pastors, was $42,950 in May 2009. The projected growth for all members of the clergy is average when compared to other occupations.
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