By Rev. Charles St-Onge
When I was young I used to ask my dad what he did all day at the office. I wondered that it was always a hard question for him to answer. Turns out that he was a key developer of the "mortgage backed securities" market in Canada (which, unlike the US market, was carefully regulated and did more good than harm). But how exactly do you explain that to a middle schooler? We're barely at the stage of understanding what a mortgage is, never mind an MBS.
Someday, I imagine (and it may be just my imagination) my kids will ask the same question I asked my dad: "What do you do?" The days of people assuming their pastors only worked "on Sunday" are probably long past. Comment if I'm wrong! But what exactly do we do with the other six days? I thought it might be useful for discussion to walk through a "typical" week, and attempt to answer the question, "What DO pastors do all day?"
Morning – At the office by 7:30. Lead a 15 minute school faculty devotion at 7:45, then school opening at 8:15. Registration fees for summer youth event are due, and the amount owing seems high. Track down info and fire off emails. Lead early childhood chapel (60 2 – 5 year olds) at 9:15. Meet with children's director for the capital campaign. Write "Chronicle" blog. Member of our visually impaired outreach calls – pray for his sick uncle and discuss his job search. Help set staff meeting agenda.
Afternoon – Meeting of West Houston Assistance Ministries' pastoral advisory board. Food donations are up, but some churches have not yet sent in their financial contribution for the year. Shut-in call at 1:30 PM. Return to the office, begin work on Wednesday mid-week sermon. Phone call from a parishioner struggling with family issues. Flurry of emails to resolve youth registration issues. Email request for a brief write-up for an upcoming capital campaign newsletter. 4:30 PM – drive kids home and have a quick supper.
Evening – Elders' meet at 6 PM, youth board at 7 PM, council at 8 PM. Home by 9:30 PM.
Morning – Preach for and lead early morning Eucharist at 7:15 AM. Finish grading 7th grade religion tests. 8:30 AM, lead devotions for our 1s and 2s in our day care program with our cantor. 9:15 AM, teach 7th grade religion class on "the Parables of Jesus." Read and approve Chronicle blog comments. Answer emails, call back a member who left a voice mail message. Non-member comes by looking for assistance and prayer. Finally finish Wednesday sermon.
Afternoon – 12 PM lunch meeting off-site regarding Sunday radio talk show. Return to office, review bible study for that evening. Meet with a teacher concerned about non-Christians in their class. Update announcements on the website. Review visually impaired grant spending, prepare for upcoming outreach luncheon and bible study. Two urgent emails answered. Youth newsletter needs to go out: print and fold and hand off to staff for mailing. 5:30 PM – Wife brings in a casserole to share with the kids.
Evening – 7 PM Young Adult Bible Study on the Gospel of John. Muslim attendee has questions about the Trinity. Home by 9 PM.
Morning – Home! Lawn needs mowing. In the office at 11:30 AM.
Afternoon – Lead noon hour Lenten service and attend light lunch served afterward. Begin work on Sunday sermon and bible study. Email request for topics to be taught in the Wednesdays after Easter. 2:30 PM shut-in call. Member stops by for a 4 PM meeting. Grab a sandwich across the street, prepare for evening service. Lead and preach at 7 PM evening worship service. Private confession and absolution afterward. Home by 8:30 PM.
Morning – In the office by 8 AM. Set test for 7th grade religion class, check emails. Comment for Chronicle blog that needs to be answered. Voice mail from the night before – please return call to a member. Teach class at 9:15 AM. Sign this week's birthday cards for members. Continue work on Sunday sermon and bible class. Request to write a 15 minute expansion on that Monday's blog for recording on our radio program that afternoon.
Afternoon – Lunch meeting at 12 PM. Return to office, urgent email from building committee. Requests from Lutheran High North, Higher Things, and a Ladies' group in Oklahoma. Complete narrative for radio program, and record at 3 PM. Continue Sunday sermon and bible study preparation. Prepare Monday morning faculty devotion and early childhood chapel. Home by 4:30 PM.
Evening – 7 PM Call on a family in Pearland; husband a member, wife thinking of joining but has concerns. Home by 9 PM.
Day off. But bulletin calendar needs to be checked, two calls and one text from a member. One urgent. Sunday sermon and bible study finally complete!
Morning – At the office by 10 AM. Outreach to the visually impaired, help receive attendees. Lead prayer time and bible study, then share lunch. Leave at 1 PM – premarital counseling session. Home by 2:30 PM. Oops – haven't checked Chronicle blog – someone's going to be mad.
At the church by 7:30 AM. Preach 8:15 and 11 AM services, lead youth bible study at 9:45 AM on James: "Watch your tongue!" Lutheran Women in Mission meeting after late service. Home by 2:30 PM. Return at 6:30 PM for Junior Youth fellowship. Home by 8:30 PM.
And that, dear readers, is what one pastor does all week
Rev. Charles St-Onge is associate pastor of Memorial Lutheran Church