One of the jokes that pops up every now and then, if you’re in ministry, is that Pastors only work one day a week. Most people say it out of humour, some however don’t. I think the reality is that many church members don’t know what Pastors spend their time doing. But also, there is a bigger question of what the priority of a Pastor should be. Let me tell you what I think the priority of every Pastor should be and then say what a normal week (not that there really is such a thing) for me looks like. The second point is just what the first point looks like in my week, I’m not suggesting that every Pastor has to follow my pattern!
1. The priority of a Pastor
We live in a social media world where all the going’s-on are right at the tips of our fingers. We have constant access to social media stories, to news articles, to emails and some form of connections to tons and tons of people. In the Christian world, and for a Pastor, that’s no different.
One look at a Pastor’s social media and you’ll normally find out what he’s reading, who he’s interacting with, who his ‘hero’s’ are and what his thinking is on a number of topics.
None of that is a problem. The problem does arrive however when a Pastor’s focus shifts from his church to his hobbies or his aspirations. A Pastor may be a gifted speaker and so his goal is to speak at conferences, that will require time of networking, investing more in speaking and ‘getting your name out there’. If a Pastor wants to have a big social media following that will require time spent of social media posting, interacting and creating content. If a Pastor wants to be seen as ‘up to date with the issues of the day’ then he’ll need to invest a lot of time in an ever changing world. What are people writing about? What are the big struggles, beliefs, problems of this world, etc. ?
The issue here is that most of the time the above examples are things that are relevant for people outside of the local church. That’s a problem because the priority of every Pastor must be the local church. God has called the man to lead a church, to shepherd a flock and to be present, not to be chasing fame, fandom or fantasy. The priority of a Pastor must be the local church.
That will mean sacrifice – saying no to exciting opportunities because they won’t serve the church. It will mean putting some hopes and plans on hold because the Lord’s people must come first. It will mean investing most of your time in the work of serving the local church and investing in the members. Being a Pastor of a local church requires you to be in the local church, not an onlooker from a distance checking in every once in a while whilst being a busybody with a new project elsewhere. Pastor the local church where God had placed you, make them your priority.
Pastor – lead, teach, train, serve, build up, care for, love… (the list could continue)
Local – in your community, a specific people who you are responsible for as an undershepherd.
Church – a local expression of a the global body of Christ.
Prioritising the local church means being there, putting in the time and making sure that you are around for the ups and downs, the beauty and the beast of all of life ministry. Ministry is not a 9-5 and the sacrifice is requires is big but it’s also totally worth it.
There’s plenty more that could be said here, but Pastors need to prioritise their local church. That means being around the building, being around the staff (if there’s a staff team), it means caring for the flock in both pastoral care and training in righteousness, it means spending the majority of your time on things that are for the local church (not external engagements or hobbies).
2. A ‘normal week’ in the life of a normal Pastor
As I have said, there isn’t really such a thing as a normal week in the life of a Pastor and so as a Pastor, there isn’t really a normal week in my life either.
I recently became the Pastor of a new church (I started in January 2023), so that is also a big factor is what my current ‘normal’ week looks like. I’m not saying that every Pastor should follow this schedule, this is what I’ve found works for me and helps me do pastoral care, visits, discipleship/training and planning. I would actually be really interested to see other Pastors weeks too!
Morning – reflection on past week and planning for the week ahead, sermon prep for the next sermon, long term planning on ministries, vision, church life, etc.
Afternoon – discipleship / training 1-1s, pastoral visit and any pastoral conversations that arise from the Sunday before or things that have been shared with me that weekend.
Evening – elders meeting (once a month), Christianity explored type course (once or twice a year for the duration of the particular course we use).
Morning – sermon prep, meeting with fellow elder about my work and church life.
Afternoon – multiple Visits (these may be home or hospital visits or meeting people for a coffee). Each visits (and one to one) requires prep (what to read with the individual, praying for wisdom and asking for the Holy Spirit to help you be an encouragement and to point them to Jesus).
Evening – prayer meeting (fortnightly).
Morning – elders prayer call (weekly), sermon prep, planning for other pieces of work that need time and energy (articles, discipleship plans, overall church vision, longer term planning, etc.).
Afternoon – engagement with church members and members of the community who attend our ‘’Welcome Hub). Other visits or meetings with church members, ministry leaders or other meetings.
Evening – Home group (fortnightly).
Morning – engaging with church members and community member who lead or attend our toddler group, prep for sermons, future planning, etc.
Afternoon – visits, other meetings and general prep for Sunday and other meetings (proposals, reports, ideas and plans).
Evening – sermon prep with my wife (I preach to here and get her feedback), hospitality.
Morning / Afternoon – final prep for Sunday (sermon, services, etc.) and any other outstanding work.
Saturday – Day Off
Attend all services, speak with people and make sure that visitors are welcomed.
That’s a rough idea for you if my week. I try do about 4-5 visits a week and 1 one to one. In my particular setting, as the only staff member, who is also new to the job, this works for me but this pattern may change in 6 months time.
I set aside approximately 20 hours per sermon, that includes prep, prayer and script. Every meeting requires prep and prayer which takes time and there are always things that are thrown in the mix that are out of the ordinary and you can’t always foresee.
I hope that this has given you an insight into my life and the life of a normal Pastor. There will be things that I’ve missed and not every week will follow this pattern, but that’s my minimum goal at least. The main thing is that I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, I serve Him as best I can and love and care for the people that God has put me an undershepherd of by His grace.