Its beginnings framed when the German monk Martin Luther spoke out against the Roman Catholic church in 1517, Lutheranism has evolved into a number of synods, church bodies and conferences located all over the world. As of 2012, the three largest synods in the United States were the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. While many other church denominations allow female pastors, in the Lutheran church only the ELCA permits and ordains women as pastors.
Preaching and Teaching
The main duty of a Lutheran pastor is to lead her congregation through Biblically based sermons and teachings. Leading the church includes a number of duties like overseeing worship services, administering sacraments and performing liturgies. The pastor teaches congregation-wide and small group Bible studies. Along with weekly church services, a Lutheran pastor leads special church year services, such as Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter. The pastor is also in charge of performing weddings, funerals, baptisms and confirmations. Working with the director of music, the pastor chooses the music for each service.
Another main duty of a Lutheran pastor is counseling congregation members in times of crisis such as death, divorce and sickness. Lutheran pastors visit congregation members recovering or living in assisted living facilities, nursing homes and hospitals, offering prayers, providing counsel and, in some cases, administering the sacraments. Additionally, a pastor manages outreach programs to minister to community members outside of the church and bring in new members. The pastor may also manage church-sponsored community programs to aid the poor and needy in that area.
Essentially, the pastor is the head of the congregation, as well as the head of the rest of the church employees and volunteers. This involves recruiting and training associate pastors, music directors, youth leaders, adult leaders, Sunday school teachers and administrative staff. Most congregations hold monthly staff meetings and monthly, quarterly or yearly congregational meetings, all led by the pastor. As well as church staff, the pastor manages the church's board members, who assist her with running the congregation's affairs.
While most congregations have one or more church secretaries who take care of most of the administrative duties, a pastor may take part in some of those duties as well. The pastor works with board members to develop a church budget and develops job descriptions, personnel policies and evaluations. Part of a pastor's duties include overseeing building improvements and maintenance of the church property, as well developing stewardship campaigns to raise funds for church projects. Many synods require that pastors attend regional and state-level meetings with other pastors in that synod to discuss policies, theology and other issues pertaining to their congregations.
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