The question doesn’t get worded just like this but I often hear it asked in various ways. Sometimes it is asked in a less than positive manner but I really believe those times are rare. At another church at which I worked there was a running joke that the staff members just sat at Starbucks and drank coffee all day. Other times people think that the pastor is writing a sermon all week and then delivers it on Sundays. Others think that pastors just pray all week (which would be pretty cool). Every pastor and pastoral staff member is different, but I thought I would answer that question from my personal vantage point as Pastor at Crossings Community Church.
I have a few patterns and guiding principles from which I try to organize my time. These are more practical than biblical. I’ll get to the explicitly biblical in a moment. One general pattern is one I learned from lifelong friend of mine and fellow pastor: inflow, outflow, play. Basically it looks at the day in thirds which takes one third for inflow time from the Father in personal study and prayer, outflow which consists of meeting with people for various manifestations of discipleship, and play is the time given to the family. Being the only staff member at our church, my routine doesn’t look that refined. I try to consistently use the morning to the start of my day to lunch for inflow and then with lunch begin the outflow. For me, outflow consists of meeting with people and working through the administrative needs of the church. The church is an organization like any other non-profit organization in that we have bills to pay, expenses to organize, technology issues and maintenance, and all sorts of communication and organizational tasks that have to be completed. Then I have many of my outflow meetings at night as well. I have to view those thirds as a bit more cumulative than neatly cut divisions in the day.
Specifically, on Tuesday mornings my inflow time gets fused with writing. This is the time of the week which I write any blog posts or other extensive writing projects. Tuesday afternoons are administrative outflow time typically. Wednesdays are when I schedule meetings for the outflow time. So, I will often have 2 or 3 meetings with individuals and then often times an evening meeting. Thursdays look very similar to Wednesdays in that I target these two days for meetings. Then, I try as hard as possible to protect Fridays as a sermon day. Fridays I am praying for the church and studying the scriptures as it applies to that Sunday’s sermon. I reach a point of saturation at some point about mid-afternoon and then do a final catchup of administrative needs and communication (usually email).
By the end of the day on Friday I usually have the content of the sermon written. Saturdays I try to keep my work time flexible based on any family commitments. Saturday is the day the final ‘connect-the-dots’ adjustments are made to the sermon, preparing notes, and then getting some administrative details together to print our worship guides for Sunday morning. You know what we pastors do on Sundays but I have also written a post about my Sunday morning routine which consists of a significant time of prayer and heart preparation before arriving to join our phenomenal setup guys each week (with usually a meeting or two later that afternoon). I know…. I left off Mondays. Mondays are my sabbath day in which I try really hard to do nothing that resembles church work, but rather spend time with my family.
Those are a lot of boring details but maybe it answers some questions. The Bible gives a few short statements in regards to the job description of those who are in pastoral ministry. First, we see the instruction and model in Acts 6 of ‘prayer and ministry of the word.’ Second, in 1 Peter 5 we see the words, ‘shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight…’ One more example would be Paul’s words to Timothy, ‘devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.’ There are many other passages that speak to the role of pastoral leadership in less direct ways, but these are a few guidelines, which with the encouragement and participation of our Elders, mark my day-to-day life.
There is much more that can be said here… especially about how my personality and struggles tweak and pull on these realities. The realities of pastoring in a church planting scenario is very different, but the goals are the same. The goal of our Elders is to constantly move ahead growing toward the realities which we find are consistent with those passages of scripture.
I hope this helps to answer that question for people. As always, I love your questions and deeply desire to be a pastor who is approachable for any questions which are on the hearts of people. Last, regardless of where you live or where you worship on Sundays, I’d encourage you to pray for your pastoral leadership. Hearing that someone is praying for you, regardless of your vocation, never gets old.