A Week in the Life of a Campus Pastor
We chuckle at the old joke, a pastor only works one hour a week. We know that cannot be exactly true, yet many remain unsure of what occurs between Sundays.
I understand the question from both sides. I’ve served as a pastor/church planter for nearly seven years now, but for my 42 previous years I was a church attender who really didn’t know what pastors did during the week. This article will help answer that question for curious minds, focusing on the role of a campus pastor at Horizons Church in WV.
Horizons is a multi-site church with seven locations around the Mountain State, plus an online audience. Our original location is in Lost Creek, and has several pastors and staff who serve in specific ministry capacities (for example, one pastor oversees the serve ministry while another oversees the groups ministry). Six satellite campuses have been strategically planted in rural towns, including Junior, where I pastor. Our other five locations are in Buckhannon, Gerrardstown, Grafton, Salem, and Weston. Altogether, we average about 1,500 attending our weekend services.
We campus pastors wear many hats, as there is only one of us at each church location – yet we benefit from the “team approach” at Horizons. One reason I love my job is the variety – every day is fairly liquid and can change depending on the demands of the day, and ministry focuses change based on the season. That said, here is a “typical” week at a glance.
Our team begins the work week in a group environment at our Lost Creek location, praying for each other’s needs and brainstorming for the week ahead. We campus pastors discuss how our ministry is going, encourage each other with ideas and best practices for what is working well, and act as think-tank listeners. We then meet with the preaching team to better understand the sermon plan, and coordinate upcoming special events such as communion, baptisms, church-wide youth events, membership classes, biblical learning classes, and more.
Resourcing is a key part of any leader’s responsibility, so after lunch with colleagues I find myself shopping for our campus needs – Welcome Center supplies, kids crafts, janitorial cleaners, building-improvement items, etc.
That afternoon I also make a hospital visit as needed, and follow-up with guests from the weekend. I communicate our Sunday plan with our worship coordinator to begin planning our song list. I type up the prayer requests our people shared on their Connection Card and email them to our prayer team, and I pray for them as well. I count it a privilege that our folks trust us to share their concerns and give us the opportunity to take their requests to our Lord.
After knocking out administrative tasks like entering attendance data and scanning receipts, planning continues: preparing for my next Community Group (home-based Bible study), Youth Group lesson, an upcoming class or pre-marital counseling session, or occasionally writing a sermon for an upcoming service. Our satellite campuses are video-based, so our sermons are usually broadcast from Lost Creek – freeing us campus pastors up to focus on pastoral care.
I find this a good day to also deepen my own understanding of the Bible and ministry by reading articles and books, watching video teaching on RightNow Media, and listening to podcasts or webinars. I post pertinent stories on our campus Facebook group/page which I manage, and share with my colleagues. I also write occasional articles like this one for the Horizons Resources page, or an article promoting an upcoming church event to publish in our local newspaper or for posting on local Community Facebook pages.
I have a lunch meeting with Heart and Hand, a local non-profit organization that helps needy area families. In the evening, I attend one of the Community Groups hosted by key volunteers.
As campus pastor, I feel responsible for growing our congregation. I am a constant representative for our church, so when I’m out and about I try engaging in conversation with a neighbor, restaurant waitress, store cashier, city or school leader – learning more about them and if appropriate, inviting them to our church.
I serve as an officer for our local minister’s association – on some Wednesdays we meet to encourage each other, learn about ministry events in each other’s churches, and discuss how to work together to further God’s Kingdom and meet real needs in our towns – such as hosting events like a public prayer meeting on National Day of Prayer, preaching Lenten services during Easter, and meeting about opiod crisis strategies.
On this day, I might also meet a male member of our congregation for coffee or lunch – to build relationship, discuss upcoming church activities, and sometimes do pastoral counseling.
I like responding quickly to any of our church members who have a biblical question or prayer need, so I often am making phone calls or sending encouraging texts or Messenger notes. I consider an important part of my job to sroll through social media and “like” posts from our church members as a way to connect and be involved in their daily lives! I love our people, so this is a really fun aspect of what I do.
I start the day meeting a handful of men from church for breakfast and conversation about current events in relation to the Bible. With the societal turn against most biblical truth, there’s always much to discuss!
Some Thursdays, I travel to Morgantown to minister to prisoners through Celebrate Recovery Inside. While up there, I’ll do hospital visits as needed.
Since I oversee all aspects of our campus, I consider a newer attendee who might have the skills to serve with our kids or first impressions ministries, and then invite them to participate. I follow up with baptism candidates for Sunday’s after-service picnic. I text teens and/or their parents and remind them of our Saturday night youth group meeting. This evening, my wife Kim and I host and facilitate a Bible-study in our home, with 12 church friends participating.
After promoting Sunday’s service on Facebook, I deliver purchased resources to our church building and prepare both the facility and my heart for Sunday. I make sure we have guest gifts ready, touch-up paint where needed, and pull weeds and water flowerbeds – while praying God brings in both regular attenders and newcomers on Sunday. I meet a couple church guys for fellowship lunch, then play some disc golf with a fellow pastor and spend time with family.
This morning, I meet with a young couple who is getting married this Fall. We’re not just preparing for the wedding but the more important aspect -- their marriage. In early evening, I pick up pizza and drinks and take to our youth group meeting – where I show a video teaching about living for God and then play dodgeball with the 15 students gathered.
Then, the biggest day of my week arrives. I’ve done my part – now I watch in wonder as God brings it all together – volunteers serving, people coming and singing incredible worship music and a powerful message. I facilitate our two morning services with prayer, announcements, and an altar call, and do my best to make connection with all 120 attending.
Afterward, we all meet a church member’s property for a picnic, and I baptize three Christians (ages 12, 18, and 52) in a small swimming pool. We play Kan-Jam and Bocce Ball, and enjoy laughter and happy times.
That’s a “normal” week in the life of a campus pastor – but whether we are full-time campus pastors or ministry volunteers, all of us who love Christ are living to make an eternal difference for his glory, and are happiest when we are serving him with a full-heart.