June 8, 2012

So, You Only Work One Day a Week?

As I have re-entered after my sabbatical, I have become painfully aware of what a priest with oversight of a congregation actually does with their time. I am also aware at how much of this is subterranean in its aspects with regard to the wider knowledge of members of the church.

One of our children said to me when I returned, “So you are back to work now? Do you really only work on Sundays?” Hardly. Take a look at a list of meetings and activities from my datebook for a week ago as an example.

  • Friday – worked with the auction committee in setting up the parish hall for the Annual Grateful Bids Auction. Attended a graduation activity for one of our high school seniors.
  • Saturday – Auction preparation and the event itself. 140 in attendance, $45,000 dollars raised.
  • Sunday – Lead and preach at the 8:00 and 10:00 am services. Meet with the children and youth team between services. Host a forum after services on my sabbatical experiences. Make hospital visits. Play music with the music team at the 6:00 pm Taize service.
  • Monday – Stop by the hospital to see a member before surgery. Do my annual review with my director of music. Meet with the pastoral care team. Meet with the director of our new mission center. Meet with the volunteer who manages our rental properties.
  • Tuesday – Meet with our deacon for the environment. Attend the staff meeting of our new mission center. Remove a homelessness campsite from the grounds of the mission center and help the camper get his stuff into storage. Attend a meeting of our One World Group – our advocacy committee.
  • Wednesday – Meet with our director of communications. Meet with our bookkeeper. Work on a sermon and my next forum presentation. Attend an African drumming class at the church.
  • Thursday – Breakfast meeting with the wardens. Make lunch for the staff (it was my turn). Hold a two-hour staff meeting. Meet with the parents with children in our children and youth ministry as we seek a replacement for our director for Children and You.

Of the 52 hours of work in the week outlined above, about three hours of sermon preparation and a meeting with my music director were the only two periods having to do with Sunday morning. The rest was the administrative management of the church and support for our ministries.

Now, I know I have colleagues who have dynamite parish administrators who relieve them of some the items on my list. Others don’t have the size staff and volunteer teams we have and therefore don’t need to spend as much time as I do connecting to other parish leaders. Maybe some priests can actually spend a majority of their time on pastoral care and worship preparation.

But among Paul’s list of gifts of the Holy Spirit I received a charism for administration and I believe this to be my primary role within our community. I’m just happy I got in some African drumming and attended a blast of an auction in the midst of all those other responsibilities.