CROSSTOWN – It is probably a fair statement to say that many different kinds of work are hard in their own way. Sometimes a pastor has to figure out how to create a spreadsheet on the computer. Other days a pastor may bury a little child and help a set of grieving parents get through the worst day of their lives. Other days a sermon demands his full attention, yet the phone constantly rings.
In addition to hard mental challenges, many bivocational pastors work hard physically. Hot, dirty and strenuous jobs await them every day, and then they can come home and write a sermon or make a visit.
Pastor Craig Petzoldt, of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Crosstown, operates a roofing company in his community. He hires one or two men to work with him, but he climbs on the roof and nails down the shingles in the south Missouri heat and humidity in order to make a living and support his family. It seems like hard work, but he shrugs it off.
“It’s all about balance,” he says. “I am an early morning person. I get up about 4:30 AM and have my devotion time. About 5:00 AM I begin to work on my sermons and look at Bible commentaries for a few hours.”
Then he goes to work for an eight or maybe ten hour day. They do mostly residential roofing. The crew he hires are part of his ministry, Petzoldt says. “I bring a radio on the roof, and we listen to Christian music. I try to mentor those men. … I am trying to influence these men and guide them.”
“I am not in the roofing business to make a lot of money,” he added. “I just like to serve people. I care about my employees, and we try to be servants to our customers.”
It is a physically demanding job. You would like to come home and shower up, eat and just lay down. But Petzoldt sometimes has visits to make or sermons to finish up, and of course he needs to spend time with his wife, Patti. You have to wonder how many hours of the days he can spend working without being exhausted.
“I come from a lifestyle that was pretty rough,” he remarked. “I am used to working hard. I’m really grateful to God for where I am now.”
Crosstown is a small community of about 200 people. The only thing in the town besides the houses are two churches, Lutheran and Baptist. The Catholic church closed a few years back. Petzoldt said a tornado took out a lot of homes about 12 years ago, and the population has declined since. They are near enough to Perryville that many people work there, choosing to live in the bedroom community of Crosstown.
Most Sundays, about 25 to 30 people are in the Baptist church for worship. Petzoldt said many of them are older, although they do pick up some kids for Sunday school from a nearby trailer park.
Bethlehem Baptist opens their building up on Thursday mornings for area residents to come by and have coffee and conversation. They are trying to be salt and light to their community. And they often pray for folks in the area.
Asked what is the sociological make-up of the congregation, the pastor paused and said, “They understand the meaning of a dollar, and they understand what working to raise a family is all about.” Many of the members work in local businesses in the Perryville area, such as a nursing care center, a food products factory and on the county road maintenance crew.
And a hard-working man, such as Petzoldt, is relatable to them as a pastor.