“Why would you want to work only 1 day a week, and that’s a half day” –my mother…obviously before she was a pastor, trying to understand why my father was considering the ministry….
Similarly, my friend’s boss once said she wish she could have an easy job, like me…my friend laughed and said that I do all that a CEO does, but with volunteers instead of employees (and morals, although she didn’t tell her boss that)…..
I sometimes think being a pastor is more mysterious than Astrology in Harry Potter
These weeks have been very busy for me, between budget meetings, an emergency with a very troubled family involving the welfare of their children and a funeral…I’ve had to hit the ground running.
The truth about ministry is that it seems very mysterious because not many people know what you do in a week. We are like glaciers. For glaciers usually only 10% of them are visible…and I think only about %10 (that would mean 4 to 5 hrs) of the work of ministry is visible
For one, there is sermon writing…how do you do it? I personally consider it an art, which means that everyone approaches it differently (warning: results are not guaranteed) That alone can take 5-15hrs…Personally I tend to build up from the bulletin. Writing prayers, picking hymns in the context of the scripture help to lead me to the right space (usually)
There’s the office stuff: Paperwork for Presbytery, Newsletters, checking with the secretary (what a blessing that I have one) to see when things will be printed, coordinating sending out things from sympathy cards and flowers to whatever other mailings are necessary (Stewardship materials anyone?)
Then there’s event planning: figuring out the timeline, alerting the appropriate leaders and medias, making sure the time is well advertised and convenient for most
There’s Pastoral Counseling, which often happens spur of the moment, and is so necessary for people’s care
Praying, as often as you can, and trying to include all relevant people in your prayers
Then there is the ministry of presence: which is the time you spend in the office or hanging out not looking busy so people can approach you…
Keeping in contact with those who have dropped out of the loop for whatever reason, and trying to remember to keep the church’s end of the relationship up either personally or (better yet) thru the deacons or hospitality people
Visiting those who are homebound or need home visits as often as possible and trying to build up lay leaders so they can do the same.
Keeping Connectiveness through the congregation by building in real fellowship moments that allow the congregation to draw together and experience God
Running the governmental board, maintaining Christ’s peace and addressing problems as quickly and directly as possible…looking beyond the people in the room towards God’s purpose for whatever is taking place…and then leading other people to that same vision…
Overseeing and checking in with the staff, trying to maintain harmony, set good boundaries and maintain open communication to nip problems in the bud
Advertising, Information and Communicating in as many levels as you can verbally, thru publishing (bulletin, newsletter, etc), thru the internet, to the church, to the community, to those who come, to those who don’t come, to the elderly, to the busy, to the families, to the staff.
Creating/Maintaining or Overseeing Christian Education for the littlest thru the adults
Being available for those Pastoral Care moments of sickness, deaths, births, marriages, major celebrations, moments of personal crises.
Attend big moments for church members (graduations, weddings, funerals, etc), even if they are not directed by the pastor, attending such events is important (and mostly fun) and a part of the job that is often not understood to be work, but are because you go as the “church’s” representative.
Maintaining your own Spiritual practice so you don’t dry up from lack of spiritual nourishment
Building Clergy Connections thru lunches, spiritual friendships, governmental meetings and other proscribed activities (mentoring, peer groups, continuing ed. etc)
Don’t forget the preaching–which is mostly what everyone sees
In addition to this there is overseeing and working on a viable mission (hopefully every church has one)..you know the thing your church does that is really unique and therefore special, so you work really really hard not only to maintain this but to grow it.
To push the church, the staff, the governmental board, the neighborhood to be more Open: Open to new ideas, Open to new (and different) people and cultures, Open to experimenting, Open to failure, Open to unexpected successes, Open to honest assessments, Open to the movements of the Holy Spirit.
Mostly, pastors are there to facilitate, coordinate and teach about our relationships with God and eachother. Sometimes that means stimulating though about this….oftentimes it means spurring people into action. Its not an exact science, but it is an important task…
This is a fairly generalized list of what my job is, it is by no means a job description, but maybe it helps to clarify who pastors are and some of what they do.