Should We Use Time Cards for Pastors?

When work ethic comes into question, is documentation a suitable solution?

In this biweekly column, longtime executive pastor and founder David Fletcher takes on readers’ questions about finances, staffing, communications, and more. Submit your questions using the subject line “Hey, Fletch” to

Are my people working hard enough? Should we use time cards for pastors?

People work incredibly hard when they have a compelling vision. When people speak into the tactics of implementing that vision, they work even harder.

I am not a fan of having time cards for pastors. Pastors are exempt from Fair Labor Standards Act regulations, so time cards are not required. Some churches use them, but pastors tend to not fill them out very well.

There are two main ways to measure “hard work.” One is through monitoring time—this is like a time-and-motion study. If you are making cogs, you can measure how many cogs each employee makes in an hour.

The other way to measure “hard work”—and a better one, in my opinion—is through a qualitative analysis of the “product.” Using a written review and verbal dialogue, seek to answer these questions:

  • Is the pastor fulfilling his or her job description? This requires a good job description that the pastor has agreed to! In that description, include percentages of time for the major categories. For example, the job description for a church evangelist might allocate 30 percent for doing evangelism, 30 percent for training others, 30 percent for hands-on ministry, and 10 percent for meetings and office work.
  • Ask for stories and examples of how the pastor is fulfilling the job description. Hear what is going on in his or her ministry and how it fulfills the church vision.
  • Understand whether new responsibilities have been assigned to the pastor over time. Should some areas of responsibility come off of his or her plate? Many roles become bloated with “important items” while “critical items” go undone.

Pastors want to work hard. They are driven by a gospel-centric desire to fulfill the Scriptures. Couple this drive with your church vision and the hard work gets done.

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