The position of teaching pastor is a specific role in churches that typically have a plurality of elders or pastors. The teaching pastor’s job is usually, as the name suggests, centered on the teaching ministry of the church. He is likely the one responsible for weekly sermons and may also oversee various Bible studies or Sunday school classes. The teaching pastor is often the person that most people think of as “the” pastor or the “lead” pastor of a church, as opposed to the worship pastor, education pastor, young family pastor, etc. In some churches, there are several teaching pastors who share the teaching responsibilities, with a senior pastor providing oversight. We should note that none of these specific titles are found in Scripture.
The word pastor literally means “shepherd,” so a pastor is the guide and caretaker of his flock, or church (Acts 20:28). One of the requirements to be an elder/pastor is the ability to teach (1 Timothy 3:2). Teaching is foundational to the church: “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:11–12). When Paul wrote to Timothy, he emphasized the importance of preaching the Word and giving “careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). Teaching is clearly to be a critical part of the mission of the local church.
The teaching pastor is the primary teacher in the church, and he will be found in the pulpit most Sunday mornings. In preparation for the weekly sermon(s), most teaching pastors are afforded plenty of time in the study to pray and study and meditate on the Word. Because of the time commitment teaching requires, other elders on the pastoral staff often take up other pastoral duties such as visitation and the daily administration of business.
In most churches with such a position, the teaching pastor is seen as an equal partner with the other pastors/elders. Together, they develop a plan for each worship service, care for the congregation, and see that the mission of the church is being fulfilled. As part of the teaching pastor’s duty to equip the saints for ministry (Ephesians 4:12), preach and defend correct doctrine (Titus 1:9), and nurture spiritual growth (Titus 1:7), he will train up other teachers, deacons, pastors, and missionaries.
As the Holy Spirit gives out spiritual gifts, He gives “some pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). As he faithfully fills the role, the teaching pastor edifies the Body of Christ “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
The teaching pastor has a mandate to “teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). His desire is that the believers under his care be “no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14). A teaching pastor prioritizes God’s plan for the church: that “we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:15–16).