A pastor cares for the spiritual growth of a group of people. While many Lutheran pastors are called to serve individual congregations, pastors also serve at colleges and universities, hospitals and long-term care facilities, camps and retreat centers and in the armed services. Some pastors also serve in leadership roles as bishops.
A sample job description on the website of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod indicates that the purpose of a pastor is “To serve the church by providing a balanced ministry of preaching, teaching, pastoral care and organizational leadership to the congregation, and to enable the church to grow to its full potential in membership and spiritual vitality.” Each group that calls a pastor may amend the purpose and responsibilities to fit their situation.
A Lutheran pastor has many of the same duties as pastors of other denominations. In a job description on their website, Redeemer Lutheran Church in Olathe, Kansas,lists the principal functions and responsibilities. A pastor plans and leads worship services, encourages spiritual development through regular Bible classes and confirmation classes, and provides support and pastoral care in times of need including visits to hospitals and nursing homes. The pastor is responsible for official acts such as baptism, weddings and funerals. He leads the staff and church council in their ministries by offering support and guidance.
Before serving in a congregation, Lutheran pastors must complete a Master of Divinity degree, a 12-month internship, a unit of Clinical Pastor Education in a medical setting, and an assessment of their theological beliefs. After they have completed these requirements, they are entered into the call process, through which they are matched with a congregation. Upon their first call to a congregation, they are ordained as a minister of the Lutheran church.
Pastors must be excellent communicators, including through public speaking. They must have superior skills in listening, counseling and negotiating. They must be able to understand, believe and interpret the doctrines of the Lutheran church.
Pastors in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod must be male, while pastors in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America can be male or female. Lutheran pastors may get married.
Salary and Job Outlook
According to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the average salary of Lutheran pastors in 2009 was $55,246. “These figures include the base salary, the actual housing allowance paid to the pastor or the value assigned to the church-owned parsonage (30 percent of the base salary), and any amount designated as a Social Security Allowance.” The average salary reported in 2009 by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for members of the clergy across all religions was $20.65 per hour or $42,950 per year. This occupation is expected to grow between 7 and 13 percent by 2018, which is an average rate of growth.