Part 1 – What does a minster do all day?
A few months ago I was away and I got to meet new people each and every day. The conversation always came round to the question ‘so what do you do during the week?’ At the end of my trip I reflected to a friend that after four years of study and a year and a half apprenticeship that it was so exciting to be able to say the words ‘I am a minister at a local church in Sydney.’ While I was really excited and this response usually led to good conversations and gospel opportunities, what people really wanted to know is ‘what does a minister do?’ ‘What does your working day look like?’
It is a very valid question. It in a world where going to church is no longer common place it is understandable that people are curious about what ministers do. Even as a church member before I became a minister I don’t think I really understood what my minister did on any given day other than a Sunday.
So what does a minster do all day? It is a hard question to answer. In some ways my days are exactly the same but in other ways they are never the same.
My days are similar in that they revolve around Jesus and people. Like some other professions the life of a minster can be broken into the daylight hours and the night. Each day I am usually at a desk or in a meeting or meeting with someone by 9am. Each day I try and spend about thirty minutes to an hour reading the Bible and praying for the day, the people I minister to, friends and families and other ministries. There is also a lot of reading. At the moment I am trying to read a Christian book a month to help me think about different areas of Christian life and how to disciple those I work with and for.
Through the course of a day I will meet with at least one person to read the Bible and pray. These meetings are often the highlight of my day. Here I get to open God’s Word and let it do the work in someone’s life. Like all vocations there are various meetings. This might be planning meetings for the coming Sunday but also dreaming and scheming meetings about upcoming events or initiatives. There is also a lot of prep. This prep could include preparing for a Bible study, a one to one meeting or kids church. There is also the opportunity to do some writing. This may include writing for a blog or putting together a paper on a matter of doctrine or theology.
Occasionally I might meet with someone before they go to work but because of the amount of ministry that takes place at night this is rather rare. A lot of my ministry takes place at night. Bible studies, Christianity explored, sport and community activities usually take place at night.
There is a running joke in some circles that ministers drink a lot of coffee as part of their job. There is an element of truth in this joke. One day I accidentally had five coffees and wondered why I wasn’t feeling so well. There is also a lot of food involved. Lots of shared meals. Through these meals real bonds of friendship have been formed.
While the content of my days are similar, from day to day and week to week there can be a lack of scheduling consistency. Sometimes this is due to peoples’ availability; other times this might be due to needing to attend conferences or professional development days. Sometimes a pastoral crisis might occur or something that requires immediate attention.
Even though my days and weeks are varied I think the best way to answer the question of what does a minister do all day is to say that we spend it with people. It is all about talking to people about Jesus, opening the Bible and showing how God speaks into the world and our lives. How this occurs can be different each and everyday but it is a privilege to wake up and do this everyday.
Over the coming weeks I will be answering the questions; what has surprised me about ministry followed by what is my job?