10 Questions People Have Asked Me about Pastors

It’s funny, actually. I’m a professor and church consultant, though I’m a pastor at heart – and I serve as one of the pastors at my local church, Restoration Church in Wake Forest, NC. But, because people see me as seminary professor/trainer first, they often ask me questions about pastors.

Below are some of those questions I’ve heard in the last few years. Some may surprise you, and some may even bother you if you’re a pastor. Most of these questions are just honest ones, though. 

  1. What exactly does a pastor do during the week? You’d think this question came from a church member who attended only on Sunday morning and did nothing more during the week, but it actually came from a new believer who really didn’t know the answer. 
  2. Do you think a pastor should know what everybody in the church gives?  My friend Thom Rainer recently addressed this same question, though with a broader range of application. By the way, as a senior pastor for 14 years, I never knew what anyone gave.
  3. Should pastors get their sermons online? There are a lot of variables in this question, but the Internet certainly opens the door wide for sermon plagiarism.
  4. Will education ruin my pastor? I suspect I know the background of this question: some pastor who went to seminary changed his theology poorly in the process. It's wrong to think that always happens. 
  5. If pastors depend on the Holy Spirit, why do they need notes for preaching? I first heard this question when an angry church member confronted me as her young pastor (I was using notes), and I still occasionally hear it.
  6. What do you recommend when the pastor’s preaching is really boring? This is a tough one. Evaluating a sermon is subjective, but too many preachers really do make the gospel boring.
  7. Does divorce disqualify a pastor? Christians differ on their answer to this question. The question’s not going to go away, though, in a culture where commitments to marriage have weakened.
  8. Should there be such a position as a “senior pastor”? This question has risen with increased attention to a plurality of elders as a model for church government.
  9. I’ve heard that even pastors struggle with pornography. Is that true? I’m afraid it is. That’s one reason many of us have tried to help address the problem.
  10. Why don’t pastors pay taxes? We do, actually, even though there are some tax benefits to this role. 

What other questions have you heard? What questions would you want to ask? Pastors, what are your answers to any of these questions?


  • spnemo says:

    Why would a pastor need a secretary/administrative assistant?
    Why don’t you have (fill in the blank) gift or ability?
    Why should a pastor get a sabbatical? If heard this one asked in both positive and negative ways.
    Have you read ALL THOSE BOOKS?

  • John W Carlton says:

    When I was an Associate Pastor/Minister of Music my pastor told me a story about his father who was also a pastor. This parishioner said, “Pastor, you don’t really have to do all of that study, the Holy Spirit will speak to you and tell you what to say.” One Sunday he tried this out and sure enough the Lord did speak to him. The Holy Spirit said, “You didn’t study this week did you?”

  • Chuck Lawless says:

    Thanks, John!

  • I heard about a pastor who ran into one of the ladies in his church while he was shopping on his day off. The woman said, “You know, the devil doesn’t take a day off.” To which the pastor replied, “Yes, mam, and if I didn’t, I’d be just like him.”

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      Thanks, Robin!

    • Ken says:

      Some years ago our church was leading a service at a nursing home. We sang a few sings, and then I stood up to bring the devotional. All of a sudden one of the ladies in the audience pointed her finger at me and said in an accusatory tone, “I saw you at Wal-Mart!” I confess: I’ve been to Wal-Mart many times. Do people think pastors get their food and supplies delivered directly from heaven?

      After the service one of my church members told me, “Well, if that’s the worst thing someone can say about you, I guess you’re doing all right!”

      • Chuck Lawless says:

        Blessings, Ken.

      • Ken says:

        P.S. Most readers have probably figured this out, but that second sentence should read: “We sang a few *songs*,,,,: One of these days I’ll learn to proofread these comments before I post them! 🙂

  • Nathaniel Simmons says:

    I got really excited when I read the 10th question. I thought I had missed something. Your answer brought me back down to earth.

  • Skip Cook says:

    Here is one I have heard several times: I don’t know why we pay you, God’s supposed to take care of you and your family! I have not had a raise in 9 1/2 years.

    • Ken says:

      Some people seem to have the idea that a pastor should be poor, and they do their dead-level best to keep him that way. It’s one thing when a church can’t afford to pay a pastor very much, but it’s quite another when the church is just being stingy. My outlook on it is this: God will take care of the pastor and his family, but He also has ways of dealing with miserly churches.

  • Chuck Lawless says:

    Just prayed for you and your work, Skip. Thanks.

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