THE LOOP

A ‘normal’ week

by | Apr 7, 2024

Being called ‘Adam’, and having the privilege of being a Pastor in a local church, regularly opens me up to two slightly tired jokes. The first usually happens when I introduce myself and the other person says “so where’s Eve?”. The second, usually happens on a Sunday. At about 1pm, someone will say “so you’re now finished for the week, as you only really work one day a week”. I think this second joke is understandable, because what does a Pastor do? I guess we could give a pretty good description of what a baker, butcher or even a candlestick maker does (ok, maybe not the candlestick maker!), but a pastor… what do they do? That’s slightly more vague. In light of this, I thought it would be fun to share with you a pretty average week for me. It won’t tell the whole story but maybe it will give you a flavour!

A vocation and not a job

The first thing to say is that being a Pastor is not strictly the same as having a job. I see pastoring as a vocational calling. It’s something that all of life gets caught up in (e.g. we have people over for tea – both the food type and the hot wet stuff). Is that work? That’s the wrong question! Vocational ministry sees all of life within the orbit of ministry. Another aspect of vocational ministry is that I personally don’t have an ‘on/off switch’. For example, I remember being in a very small rowing boat, with Lorna’s uncle, off the coast of Norway (part of Lorna’s family are Norwegian), and we were lowering crab pots for an eagerly anticipated feast. The next day, out of the blue, my mind suddenly put a whole bunch of ideas together, and there and then I sketched how we were going to reshape mid-week groups that at the time weren’t working because we couldn’t find leaders fast enough for the amount of new groups we needed. 

Vocational ministry basically says ‘to serve these people and to try and help us accomplish this mission is honestly one of the greatest privileges and joys (and, at times, heartaches).’

Guiding principles

So if all of life gets drawn into this vocational way of life, how do I figure out what I should and shouldn’t be doing? A few years ago, I wrote a list which is called ‘my weekly reminder: how I’m going to live in the second half’. I’ve been involved in day-to-day pastoral ministry for about 20 years. I pray and hope that I will be able to be involved for another 20 years, so I’m kinda half way through. This list is really a combination of biblical ideas of pastoral ministry (vs. more business or management ideas) and some of the unique contributions which I think I can bring to an eldership team. So here’s my five guiding principles:

1. Solitude, Silence and Prayer

2. Writing, Preaching and Subversion

3. Listening, talking and personal discipling (the cure of souls)

4. Identifying, recruiting and coaching leaders

5. Welcoming and showing hospitality to newcomers

A ‘normal’ week

So how does this all get melded together into a ‘normal’ week? Have a read below! I’ve outlined how my days look generally, with some specific examples added to illustrate.  Where I can, I’ve tried to add a number after each entry to show how it aligns with one of the above guiding principles. Please note the list below does not include ad hoc phone calls, emails, WhatsApp messages and Asana updates!

Sunday

At 6am, you will find me sat at our dining room table reading my Bible, praying and doing some final bits of preparation for the morning (1). Sunday morning I’ll gather with others in the church to pray at 10am (1), try to connect with newcomers (5) and preach (2). Often we will have people  over for lunch (3/5) and then in the afternoon I spend at least 2 hours preparing for the week ahead. This could be preparing for meetings that I will be part of, or just trying to make sure I use my limited time for the most effective things possible. I also read for a couple of hours (this is constant in my life). Later in the afternoon, Lorna and I went for a brisk walk and then in the evening we had a meeting of the newly emerging pastoral core team (4). A long day.

Monday

The day started with an early morning walk, followed by prayer and Bible reading (1). I then took a long commute (about 2 minutes!) to the Mill where I met up with Simon F (4) for our fortnightly 1:1 and then we had our weekly staff meeting (4). After that Chris and I had our weekly lunch together where we check in on each other and plan activities (3/4). I then wrote my weekly elders report and did some prep for our new sermon series on 1 Peter (2). Monday evening was a night off (unusually) so Lorna and I did something really exciting… we updated our wills.

Tuesday

The day started with Prayer & Bible reading(1). Tuesday is my sermon prep day (2) or, if I’m not preaching, I’ll use the time to write or prepare (2) for future events. I then had a pastoral meeting at lunchtime (3), and also quickly updated some material on our new pilot podcast that we’re hoping to start post-Easter (see article below). Tuesday evening is always our newly-forming growth group (2/3) which is just so enjoyable (side note: I think I’m getting a reputation for having a bit of dark humour when we read the Bible together… which is slightly amusing to me as I’ve never really seen myself as morbid!).

Wednesday

The day started with Prayer and Bible reading (1). The morning was filled with preparation for Easter (2) and planning for a number of key meetings coming up in the next week. After lunch I had an afternoon of meetings. One was of a pastoral nature (3) and the others were working with leaders (4). Wednesday tea time we try to do a fortnightly ‘zoom tea’ with my family. It doesn’t always work, but it’s nice to see family who no longer live round the corner. In the evening I led our monthly GROW evening (see article) (4).

Thursday 

Thursday always starts with the elders prayer meeting (1). I then spent some time in Prayer and Bible Reading(1). I also spent a couple of hours writing my 6 month annual appraisal… I can’t quite believe where the time has gone! In the afternoon, I met with a number of people. One of these meetings was with a long-standing Pastor friend who wanted to check in on how I was doing (that’s the kindness of God in action!). Thursday evening I met with one of our leaders in the church to discuss some next steps (4).

Friday

This is my day off (or, more technically, we call it our sabbath). Generally, it involves getting up slightly slower, a good long walk (we’re really enjoying the Trans Pennine Trail at the moment), followed by a good coffee (either made at home or in a coffee shop) and lots of talking and praying (and hopefully laughing!) with Lorna. I’ll also sit in my favourite chair (I know I sound a bit sad) and read something I don’t need to read but I want to read. At the moment I’m reading a theological and philosophical critique of radical orthodoxy (it’s an influential theological movement). Friday evenings will generally involve a family film of some description.

Saturday morningNormally, I get up really early so I can start work way before the rest of the family is up (this also includes a time for Prayer and Bible reading (1). Then I’ll try and see one or two people (3). Saturday afternoon is generally reserved for seeing friends or doing jobs around the house ( I always push for friends!). The evening is generally quiet because Sunday is normally a busy day for us. 

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