I think it is a well-meaning question. Most of the time it comes from smaller children who usually only interact with their pastors on Sunday. Sometimes it comes in veiled forms from adults in conversations about church budgets or career paths.
“What do you do the rest of the week?” is a question that makes a pastor chuckle the first couple of times he hears it. But the more often it is said, the more he begins to examine himself and wonder if he is involved with the church family enough that his schedule is fairly known.
Redemption City Church is a family that spends a lot of time together outside of Sunday morning. With Community Groups, Bible studies, counseling, events, and regular hang-outs we see each other a lot. So many of you know what we do with much of our week. But just to satisfy the curiosity of some onlookers, the following is a ‘typical’ week for a pastor at Redemption City Church.
Rest day? Upload the sermon from Sunday to the website with pictures and link to podcast hosting page. Send out invitations to visitors to meet up during the week for coffee or lunch. Answer random phone call from church member while bathing the kids. Go to child’s baseball game (invite church families to come cheer him on).
Get to office at 6:00 am while it is relatively quiet. Start with Bible reading and prayer time. Begin sermon prep: translation, argument diagramming, word studies, recite text multiple times, pray for insight. Meet visitor for coffee from 9:00 – 10:30 am. Get back to office to have elder discussion of Sunday worship service: sermon faithfulness and response, Sunday School lesson, facilities logistics, member needs, changes for next week. More sermon text studying in the afternoon. Read blogs/news to find information helpful for church. Follow up on emails from church partners, mentors, disgruntled members, and community group leaders. Plan sermon texts and SS lessons for the next couple of months. Meet with next week’s SS teacher to help him prepare his outline. Enter visitor information into the people management application. Babysit church members’ children from 5:00 – 7:00 so they can go on a date.
Meet with finance team at 6:00 am to discuss budget needs and estimate upcoming giving patterns. Read Bible. Plan School of Theology lessons for fall semester. Answer phone call from member about personal counseling situation. Respond to dozen texts from various members. Write a newsletter to inform the church of upcoming events, news, and prayer requests. Plan dinner presentation of vision and membership at Redemption for new attenders. Assist development of new community group. Explore rough 5-year plan for new church plants. Brainstorm potential new mission partnership overseas. Lunch with Sunday visitor. Review book table recommendations for free resources on Sunday mornings. Send out email to community group meeting reminder. Pray for insight into sermon text, church family, and cultural connections to illustrate and apply sermon. Attend Community Group during the evening to connect deeper with church family.
Men’s prayer meeting at 6:00 am. Meet with potential future leader for one-on-one discipleship for an hour. Have coffee with visitor at coffee shop (spend 30 minutes talking to the barista about religion and church). Write an adoption recommendation letter. Formulate sermon main idea and outline. Double check sermon study notes with commentaries. Write introduction to sermon. Bounce sermon ideas off of other pastor. Meet for lunch with mentors to check in on our families and our ministries. Call member to get update on outreach efforts. Update website details. Pray through section of membership list. Read through sermon text multiple times. Read blogs/news to find information helpful for church. Meet with Redemption ministry leader to discuss how things are going and pray together. Review commentary manuscript written by friend before he submits it to the publisher. Read book on how to preach and write better sermons. Host a family from church or the neighborhood for dinner.
Pray for final sermon details. Listen to sermon text from audio bibles. Write sermon. Check w/ facilities manager on current status of building details for Sunday. Fill out bulletin with song and sermon details. Meet with visitor for lunch. Read sermon aloud to make adjustments. Practice sermon in a pulpit. Meet with engaged couple for premarital counseling. Pizza and a movie night with family.
Wake up in the morning before anyone else in the family to practice sermon a couple of times. Try to shelf pastoral duties for entire day to spend some time with the family. Go on a family trip to the museum (and invite a few other church families). Read sermon text one more time before going to bed marking up the margin with notes.
Begin the day at 5:00 am preparing for the morning sermon. Read through manuscript a notes a few times and pray for the Spirit to bring clarity, prepare soft hearts, and exalt Christ in our weakness. Arrive in the office at 7:15 to collect equipment, print bulletins, review sermon notes once more. Arrive at middle school at 8:00 to help set up. Corporate prayer at 9:00. Sunday School at 9:30. Worship at 10:30. Lunch at 11:30. Clean up and get home by 1:30 pm. On alternating weeks during the school year, meet class from 6:30 – 8:30 for School of Theology.
This is just a sample of the type of things we do each week. Not all of them get done every week. Not everything is included in every week. Many things are missing. Many things actually happen in the evening when a member calls or texts when they have more time. This doesn’t include emergency room and hospital visits or other urgent church family needs. This doesn’t include the quick emails and texts suggesting improvements or important books and articles to read that would help our ministry.
A pastor easily finds his entire identity in the church. Every moment of the day he is pastor. Every time a friend calls, he is also pastor. Every time he is at a the store and runs into a member he is pastor. As an engineer I could check out of work at 4:00 pm and not care about it anymore until I sat back down in my office the next day. Not as a pastor. He has tied his life completely to the people he has been called to shepherd. But it is his joy to be called to bring the gospel to life for Christ’s people.