Friday, 13 July 2012

So... what do you do exactly?

I'm often asked by non-church-going friends (and by some church-going friends as well!) how I spend my days as a Pastor.

In many ways the work of any Pastor is like an iceburg - the bulk of it isn't visible and remains hidden below the surface out of public view. Preparing for sermons, talks and Bible studies;  preparing to lead meetings, meeting up with individuals and fellow leaders, and pastoral care and counselling, all takes up a considerable amount of unseen time. And that's not to mention time given over to praying, reading the Bible and nurturing my own soul in order to stay spiritually fresh and authentic.

It's a cliche, but most Pastors would say that the only really predictable thing about most weeks is their unpredictabilty. While I am very diligent about taking a day off each week to spend with my family, the reality is that I am always 'on duty': 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. I just never know what the next phone call will bring or what pastoral crisis is around the corner.

Most pastoral situations need to remain confidential and necessarily go unseen, but when they do come, they soak up an enormous amount of emotional, physical and spirtual energy and time. A failing marriage can't be dealt with in only one session; confronting a man caught in a sin is never without ripples; a sudden bereavement or unsettling diagnosis needs pastoral time. So the next time the sermon seems a little ragged or the pastor a little distracted, spare a thought for what he may have had to deal with that week.

Having said that, last week contained many of the elements that make up my role, so it seems like as good a week as any to use as the basis for answering that question.

So here goes: a look beneath the surface of the iceburg...


MORNING: I try to reserve the first two hours of every Monday morning to take the kids to school and catch up with my wife, Carolyn. We ran the excellent Marriage Course a few years ago at Woodgreen and this emphasised the need for 'Marriage Time' - protected time together each week. Because I am out most evenings, this is a really important time for us to talk, have a coffee together and just be together.

However, this week was little different. A good friend's Mum had died recently and the funeral was today. So I skipped my date with Carolyn and went to support him. Sometimes pastoral care can't be put off or pigeonholed neatly into the diary.

AFTERNOON: Catching up with admin, plus preparing to lead Discipleship Explored tonight.

EVENING: Discipleship Explored: I've loved leading this course: 4 other guys, all hungry to learn and grow in their faith. It runs 8-10pm - fueled with cakes baked by Carolyn - what's not to like?


MORNING: First look at passage for Sunday morning sermon: James 4:13-5:11. The aim at this stage of the week is to meditate on the passage to try to get the big idea, start formulating some idea of my sermon structure and check my exegesis by reading a few commentaries.

LUNCHTIME: Bi-monthly meeting with Jesus in the City Leaders @ Woodgreen. 12.30-2pm

AFTERNOON: Two-weekly  meeting with Phil Jackson, Head of Warndon Villages Primary School, where I am Chair of Governors. Followed by prep for the Elders' Meeting tonight.

EVENING: Chair Elders' Meeting @ Woodgreen


MORNING+EARLY AFTERNOON: Visiting a Church Member in hospital with Carolyn. Then sermon prep. The aim now is to put some flesh on the bones, and find relevant illustrations. By the middle of the afternoon I  have a first (very rough) draft.

AFTERNOON: Prayer Meeting Prep: I am leading the first part of the prayer meeting, including an introductory devotion tonight.

EVENING: Leading our 'First Wednesday' Prayer Meeting, with guest visitor Caroline Geuter from Open Doors who support Christians around the world who are persecuted for their faith.


MORNING: Write Growth Group Bible Study Sheets and Leaders' Guide. Woodgreen's Growth Groups have been working through Bible studies I have written as follow ups to the ministry on Sunday mornings from James.

AFTERNOON: Preparation for funeral tomorrow.

EVENING: A rare night in, but only because Carolyn is leading the music practice.


EARLY MORNING: Leading the men@woodgreen early morning prayer meeting.

MORNING: Final draft of Sunday sermon, including PowerPoint slides.

AFTERNOON: Take funeral @ Worcester Crematorium of a dear Christian lady. I then attend funeral of a mother of a lady who comes to our Luncheon Club.

EVENING: Mission Team Meal at our house, a chance for the Mission Team to talk with Hannah Coggins about her preparations to go to Madagascar and how we can support her as a church.


Usually my day of with the family, but today it's the Woodgreen Community Fun Day, a great opportunity to engage with our local community.

And it lived up to it's name (see previous post) - it was great fun!