What Does A Pastor Do?

Last month was Pastor Appreciation Month. During that month, you’ll have a handful of people share on social media a little peek into the difficult life of being a pastor. But for the most part, most people sit around and wonder what a pastor actually does. You hear a statistic that pastor’s routinely work 60-70 hours a week, and most people wonder, “Doing what?” More than one person has responded to hearing my husband is a pastor with something along the lines of, “Must be nice to only work two hours a week.” They mean it as a joke, but the fact is, most people don’t have any idea what a pastor does all week. So, I figured I’d shed a little light on that. Not all pastors do all these things. Some pastors are bivocational, meaning they work more than one job, and cannot do all these things. Some churches have more staff than just the pastor to help with some of these things. But any given week, this is what pastors across your community are doing.

You see them preaching on Sunday morning. That sermon usually takes around 10 hours to write and get ready to deliver. That doesn’t include all the other prep for Sunday morning, like typing up and printing bulletins, getting ready to teach a Sunday School class, choosing music or approving music for the service, picking up the coffee and tea, and making sure all volunteers will actually be showing up on Sunday. Then after church, they are putting things away, cleaning up, and getting the list of thing they need to remember for the next week going. (Remember to go pick up more pens. Get more giving envelopes printed. The nursery is out of wet wipes, pick some up. Etc.) Sunday morning takes a team of people to pull off, but the pastor has the bulk of the work, usually spending 18 hours or more each week just making Sunday morning happen at all.

The pastor is also responsible for making small groups, midweek meetings, and/or Sunday School happen. Even when there are other people to help lead these group meetings, the responsibility to choose curriculum or books still falls on the pastor. Every study done in a small group is usually read by the pastor first, to make sure it fits with their congregation and isn’t heresy. (Pastors, if you don’t already do this, you should.) They are also responsible for teaching those that are teaching how to teach and lead. They are checking in with them, seeing how things are going, and keeping up to date on the group’s progress. Just because they may not be at every small group meeting does not mean they aren’t actively involved in every small group.

The Pastor is on call all the time. Not just for church members, but for anyone in the community. He is called in for counseling on a regular basis. Some of those, he’ll refer to a counseling professional after an initial meeting. Some, he’ll continue to meet with on a regular basis. He is always there when people need to talk, not just people who give or contribute to the church. It may simply be a phone call. Or he may have to leave before dinner and head out to pick someone up that needs a friend right now. Sometimes it is people just needed a place to vent. Life is stressful. Sometimes he may need to mediate a family conflict. Sometimes he may need to pick someone’s teenager up and try to be a voice of reason when they aren’t listening to much of anyone lately. Whatever it may be, it can take hours of his day or week, even in a small congregation. And he can’t just turn off his phone, ever. Because people need him.

The Pastor is often just the guy people call when they need someone. Emergency childcare, emergency transportation, house work, yard work, moving- he’s just the guy you call because he is dependable. When a single mother of four is evicted from her apartment, he’s the guy people call to help her figure out temporary and permanent housing. When she needs a sitter for a job interview, he’s the guy called to babysit. When someone locks their keys in their car, he’s the guy to call to drive them across town and back with the spare key. He’s just the reliable guy that will drop anything he can to help anyone he can.

The Pastor is visiting people often. This is something people in the church should be doing as well, but the pastor is making it a point to see the elderly, sick, and shut-ins in his care often. Taking them flowers to brighten their room. Delivering cards from the kids’ Sunday School class, so they know they are missed and still feel like part of the church. Taking them communion when they can’t make it to church because no one should have to miss the sacraments. He’s visiting strangers in the hospital, because someone called and said there is someone in a local hospital that needs someone to talk to. He’s also visiting with those in the church outside of a church setting. Getting together for coffee to catch up on life. Grabbing a quick lunch on someone’s lunch break with them just to be able to chat. He is staying connected constantly, which takes face to face time.

The Pastor is out there in the community doing the work of Jesus. Yes, he is coordinating volunteers to do this work as well. Yes, he is harassing and dragging those in the church along with him at times. But he knows from the example of Jesus to be a servant leader, to get out there and do the work himself, hoping you’ll follow his example. Often, he’s going at this alone, unable to convince anyone to join him. But he’s out there getting his hands dirty for Jesus, caring for the least of these.

The Pastor is constantly reading and trying to stay “in the know” on both or culture and the Christian culture. He’s reading through the top books at the Christian book store so he can know what you’re hearing. He’s staying up to date on current events so he can know where people are. He’s challenging himself by reading theology, counseling, and leadership books so he can be the best he can be for you. He’s also doing his own daily Bible study, and studying the Bible with his family. He’ll also, likely, be heading to conferences and meetings to stay “up on his trade”, like continuing education. And he’s likely listening to the sermons of other pastors throughout the week.

The Pastor also has to do work that just needs to be done. Keeping up the church website, making sure it stays current and relevant. He has to send out the same information in a half dozen different ways to make sure everyone is informed. He can’t just send an email about an upcoming event because half the church will say they don’t check their emails. He’ll have to put it on the website, knowing only 3 or 4 people even check that on a regular basis; make a Facebook event and personally invite every person in the church and share it on the church’s group page; share it on Twitter; send half the church a text about it, because that is the only mode of communication they use; and then call people every few days to make sure everyone knows what is going on. This is all in addition to the ad on Sunday morning and the reminder in the bulletin. He has to upload the sermon each Sunday and make sure he shares it on every available social media platform. It may look like he is always promoting himself, but really, he has to share things that many times to make sure everyone in the church even knows the thing exists. He’ll also have to type up and send prayer request emails through the week as people call or send those to him.

The Pastor may also have other ministries that he is involved in. Our pastor is on the board for our association, so any given week, he has several hours of work to help them out as a volunteer. They are also contacted by all manner of non-profit ministries and organizations to try to solicit the congregation on their behalf. They have to wade through each request and determine if the non-profit is in line with the values and mission of their church and what their involvement should be, if any.

There are also the services a pastor performs. Weddings and funerals both take considerable time and often, pastors aren’t paid for either. A wedding usually takes about 30 hours of work from the Pastor. (10 hours of counseling, 5 hours to write the service, 5 hours for the rehearsal, 10 hours the day of the wedding from pre and post wedding duties.) A funeral usually takes about 20 hours of work from the Pastor. (10 hours meeting with the family and writing the service. 6 hours of visitation. 4 hours for the actual service and after.) Keep in mind, in both scenarios, the Pastor is first there and usually last to leave. And a pastor isn’t guaranteed to make any money from either, even if travel and hotel expenses are involved.

There are also other speaking engagements a pastor may be asked to do. A youth camp, a retreat, a service at a Christian school. Those are often unpaid, as well.

The majority of a pastor’s work is secret, unseen, so it is easy to see where the misconception comes from that they don’t do that much. But when you are going through a crisis, you know who you can call. When you are in need of guidance, you know who you can call. We know they do things other than just preach on Sunday morning, but we often don’t think about just how much they are doing.

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Erin Condren Life Planner Vs. Plum Paper ME Planner

With six kids, homeschooling, church, volunteering, etc- a planner is a necessity in my life. I have tried a thousand apps, but putting pen to paper is THE BEST way for me to stay organized. In 2016, I had an Erin Condren Life Planner. In 2017, I decided to try the Plum Paper Planner because it was cheaper and more customizable. I had some initial thoughts that I shared on Instagram, but now that I am 75% done with the Plum Paper Planner, I figured it was time for a full review.

I really liked the Erin Condren Life Planner. I was skeptical about how the cover would hold up, but figured I could always buy a new one if the first didn’t make it. I was really surprised that the cover lasted all year. I even took the little ruler out to use in my Plum Paper Planner. Overall, the layout was really nice and usable. My pens and markers didn’t bleed through. Yes, my stickers made it thick and weird by the end of the year, but I’m not going to NOT use stickers, people. The coil, the whole thing really held up to my very hard use.

When it came time to buy a new planner, I strongly considered going back with Erin Condren. However, I had heard good things about Plum Paper and they were more customizable and cheaper. So, I opted to try the Plum Paper Planner out. The cover looked like it would hold up really well, however, it didn’t.

I had to completely remove the plastic from the front cover because a corner broke off and it attacked me in the middle of Hobby Lobby. I seriously had this huge gash down my forearm from a planner injury. I was seriously concerned about getting necrotizing fasciitis being in public with a fresh wound. It ended up healing fine, but the plastic cover on the front had to go. Then the back cover felt left out and decided to break, too. I’ll be removing the back cover as soon as I post this. The decorative covers are still in place, but both plastic covers are history.

They are showing signs of wear, too. But hopefully they can hold out for 3 more months. The coil is holding up well.

My next issue with Plum Paper is the layout. So, in my Erin Condren, I would see the month tab, open to the tab, and the month would be in front of me. In Plum Paper, a pre-planning page is there and then you turn the page to get to the month. It isn’t a huge deal, but a minor annoyance. Like, I’m standing in the doctor’s office scheduling my next appointment and she says, “What about October 3rd?” I quickly open to the October tab and see my goals for October (have a baby) and the birthdays for the month and my notes on what books I need to read that month instead of seeing October 3rd. Then I have to turn the page and see the month to see it is a Tuesday that, yes, is free. Again, minor, but annoying.

My next annoyance is with how the weeks are set up. You know you have those weeks where a few days fall in one month and a few days fall in another. I like those weeks to just go into whatever month the most days fall into. Plum Paper didn’t feel that way and DUPLICATES these weeks. Now, if you aren’t paying attention, you’ll double book yourself. It got me enough times in the beginning that I had to go in and put washi tape over all the duplicate days. Which did result in having partial weeks in this month and then a partial week in the next, but that was the best I could do given their design flaw.

It at least keeps me from double booking, although it doesn’t give me nice, full week at a glance views all the time. Again, it is a minor thing, but an annoyance.

I also found that my customized boxes were not really big enough for everything I needed to put in them. Some days, I would have a bunch of stuff crammed into the top two boxes and the rest empty. Or I would have the Kid’s box and The Pastor’s boxes completely full and then all this blank space. So, while being customizable seemed so nice, it wasn’t really as necessary as I thought it was.

And can I tell you they BOTH annoy me with having the monthly calendar done starting on Sunday (as it should) and the weekly stuff starting on Monday. So, I’m looking at the week of the 8th through the 14th, but in my planner, the weekly view starts the week on the 9th but the monthly view starts it on the 8th. I want the weeks to start on Sunday across the board. But hey, if you’re customizing something, how about have the start day of the week customizable? So people who want (to do it wrong) to start the week on Monday can do so. Or if I was a weirdo and wanted my weeks to start on Thursday, that could happen. Either way, pick a day and have that match across the weekly and monthly view.

So, what am I doing for 2018? Am I going back to Erin Condren? Sticking with Plum Paper again to get more fun planner related injuries? Neither. I’m transitioning to a bullet journal so I don’t have to deal with the inadequate layout issues. I don’t have to settle for either of the annoyances. Although, I’d choose Erin Condren over Plum Paper if I only had those two options.

2017-2018 at Godbold Academy

I’m finally mostly planned out for this coming school year. I usually don’t do quite so much pre-planning, but I’m having a baby late October/early November, so I figured I should plan out all I could in advance. A couple new things for us this year: First, I planned in terms instead of just all year. 5 terms total. Three 12 weeks terms, an Advent term, and then a summer term. The kids have been begging me for a more traditional summer, so I have taken their request and we made a compromise. (We usually do year round school.) They will still be completing their third term after the local schools get out. But then they get an actual summer term, which will mostly just consist of each of them having a required reading list. The other new to us thing is the Morning Basket. It is a Charlotte Mason homeschooler thing, but I have adapted it a bit for our more classical methods. More about that if you click the Morning Basket link below.

I did look into switching from The Well Trained Mind to Ambelside this year. I love a lot of things about Ambelside, but ultimately felt The Well Trained Mind is still a better fit for our family. I did look over the Ambelside reading lists for the corresponding years of history and picked a few of those suggestions that I thought might be a good fit for my crew. The Well Trained Mind is really adaptable on a child by child, family by family basis. You have a wide variety of ways the method is really done and worked out in families. We’ve used it from the beginning of our homeschool journey. (This is our 8th homeschooling year.) I’m always tempted by other things, but ultimately decide every year to stick with The Well Trained Mind. It just fits us best.

This year, I am homeschooling 5 kids. One of those is an optional one who is currently opting in. (“School” in our house is optional until you are 6 years old.) Grade levels also get a little mixed when you’re talking about homeschool, especially when you’re not just using a box curriculum. Kids tend to move at their own pace and advance quicker in some areas than others. I kind of average out their level and that is what grade the kid says they are in, since “What grade are you in?” Isn’t usually meant to be answered with, “Well, I have the vocabulary of a high school sophomore, but in math, I’m around grade 6. In literature, we read higher level books than our ages would suggest. And in Grammar, I am on grade level.” People usually expect something more like, “I’m a sixth grader.” Believe me, getting testing scores back for homeschoolers learning in non-traditional methods is quite amusing as they may very well likely place in every single grade in something. But on the average, this year I have a preschooler, a first grader, a fourth grader, and two sixth graders.

This year should prove to be a bit of a challenge for each of them as I am realizing they can do some pretty hard things. They are typically limited by the challenges, or lack there of, that I give them. We are not doing Latin this year, though that is a typical classical homeschooler subject. We are incorporating it a little in their vocabulary studies. We are also leaving out handwriting for the time being. They have a lot of writing to do, so I am not too convinced a full handwriting course is really necessary this year. If I change my mind, I can always add it in for Term 2 or 3 or even the Summer Term.

To save us from an infinitely long post, click on the links to the individual parts of our school year below.

Morning Basket

First Grade

Fourth Grade

Sixth Grade

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Sixth Grade Curriculum 17/18

These two are doing most of their work outside of the Morning Basket time on their own. They are much more capable of getting things done without my help these day. I write their work to be done in their planners and they check it off as they go. They have weekly and daily assignments to complete each week.

Math

Teaching Textbooks 6

Literature

Pinocchio

Treasure Island

The Secret Garden

The Pied Piper of Hamelin (The Bargain Book A Treasury of Fairy Tales from Barnes and Noble does have this story included.)

Grimm’s Fairy Tales Selections

A Little Princess

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Robinson Crusoe

Rip Van Winkle

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Bambi

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Gone Away Lake

The Beggar’s Bible

The Wind in the Willows

For each book read, they will have to write a brief book report including information about the author and intended audience, setting information, why they think the book was written, and what they thought of the book. They will also have to write a character list for each book they read. They also have 30 minutes a day of additional reading time, but they can choose any book they like for that time and they only have to keep a list of what they have read. One will likely choose Goosebumps every day. The other will likely choose Harry Potter or Hunger Games.

History

You Wouldn’t Want to be Sick in the 16th Century

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Sign of The Beaver

Calico Captive

George Washington’s World

Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution

Amos Fortune, Free Man

Who Was Davy Crockett?

In addition to the Morning Basket History and the additional history reading, each week this age group has a few tasks to complete. They have to write the significant information on their timeline. They also have to look up the appropriate section we are covering in the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia and write an outline for the information they read. They also have to find the locations we cover in the Atlas and then also find them in their Geography Coloring Book and color the pertinent areas. This is pretty much the way The Well Trained Mind lays out history for this age. We are using The Story of The World 3 Activity Book to help line up the Kingfisher readings with our Story of the World readings.

Science

Who Was Galileo?

Ocean of Truth

In addition to the Morning Basket Science and their Science reading, they have to choose a topic related to our science work that week, research it, and then write one to two pages on the topic.

Critical Thinking

We’ll be covering one chapter each week in the book Fallacy Detective.

Grammar

Selected assignments in Writer’s in Residence. They used this last year and didn’t finish it, so they are working on finishing it up this year. I still don’t like it as a whole, so I’m just picking out the parts I want them to read and the assignments I want them to complete.

Easy Grammar 6

Word Roots Level 1

Bible

In addition to our group Bible study and family devotions, they are doing Walking In Peace on their own.

Music

These two are also learning to play an instrument this year. One has chosen the violin, the other is still deciding.

**This post contains affiliate links. It won’t cost you any more to use these links, but it does benefit me. Using affiliate links is a great way to thank and support your favorite bloggers.**

*** Most classics are cheapest on Amazon. Puffin is one of my favorite publishers. However, I love Barnes and Noble hardback classics. Take your declaration of intent or homeschool ID to your local Barnes and Noble for an Educator’s Discount Card, which will save you 20% on books!***

Fourth Grade Curriculum 17/18

I just have the one forth grader this year. He will have the option of being grouped with the younger kids for Literature if he wants, but that will entirely be up to him on a day by day basis. I write his work to be done in his planner and he checks it off as he completes it. I have his broken down into daily assignments. This is all in addition to Morning Basket time.

Math

This guy is on Teaching Textbooks 4 this year.

Literature

Pippi Longstocking

Grimm’s Fairy Tales

Homer Price

The Adventures of TinTin

The Wouldbegoods

The Borrowers

Nooks & Crannies

The Great Brain

For each book read, he will have to write a review on the book. He also has to read an additional 30 minutes each day. He can choose his own books to read during this time and only has to keep a list of books he has read. His fun reading usually involves Choose Your Own Adventure books, Origami Yoda books, or Captain Underpants books.

History

You Wouldn’t Want to be Sick in the 16th Century

The Courage of Sarah Noble

Who Was Davy Crockett?

In addition to his reading, he also has to find each country we mention in our Morning Basket time in the World Atlas.

Science

Who Was Galileo?

Oh, Yuck! The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty

Critical Thinking

Critical and Creative Thinking Activities Grade 4

Grammar

Easy Grammar Grade 3. (This isn’t his strong suite, so I’m going down a level for him so he isn’t overly frustrated. The Easy Grammar program goes over the same things every level, it just dives a little deeper and is a little more difficult as you go. This will actually be his first year in a Grammar program.)

He also used Words I Use When I Write on all his writing projects. When he asks us to spell a word, he either writes it in himself right then or we write it in for him. This way he only has to ask how to spell something once.

In addition to his grammar, he will be choosing 10 spelling words each week to learn. The available words are on index cards on a ring. Each day, he’ll either write the word 3 times, write the definition of the word, or write a sentence using each spelling word- depending on what day it is. At the end of the week, he will have a quiz. The words he gets correct will move to his “mastered” ring. Words he gets incorrect move back to the ring with available words to choose from.

Bible

In addition to our group Bible study and our family devotions, he’ll be doing the Walking in Peace study on his own.

**This post contains affiliate links. It does not cost you more to use these links but it does benefit our family. Using affiliate links from your favorite bloggers is a great way to show your love!**

***For classics, Amazon typically has the cheapest prices. I love the type and feel of the Puffin books. However, I usually go with Barnes and Noble hardback classics when they are available. They are just so pretty. Take your declaration of intent or homeschool ID to your Barnes and Noble for an Educator’s Discount Card and get 20% off your books!***

First Grade and Preschool Curriculum 17/18

There are a few things my first grader is doing that my preschooler will not be joining in on because of ability. However, I like to keep the kids grouped as much as possible because it is a better use of time and it helps the days flow more smoothly. These are in addition to the Morning Basket time.

Math

The current plan is to use Life of Fred alternating with a few math activity boxes that we’ll rotate through. That could change depending on how these guys do with Life of Fred. Keep your eyes open for a post about those math activity boxes!

Literature

Our first term, we are studying Fairy Tales. We will be reading them daily and doing a couple activities a week based on a fairy tale from that week. We’re reading various tales from the following books:

Mary Engelbreit’s Nursery and Fairy Tales Collection (the illustrations in these are amazing)

Mary Engelbreit’s Mother Goose

Time Lord Fairy Tales

The Little Mermaid and Other Fairy Tales (Hans Christian Anderson)

Grimm’s Fairy Tales

A Treasury of Best Loved Fairy Tales (Barnes and Noble Bargain Books)

Phonics

For the first two terms, we’re doing Alpha Tales and Phonics Tales the first two and we’ll see where that gets us. I expect the preschooler to stick to Alpha Tales while his brother moves through Phonics Tales. We’ll also be adding in My ABC Bible Verses whenever it isn’t backordered anymore.

Science

This age really loves books about science. So, we’re doing science daily with them.

Kingfisher First Encyclopedia of Animals

Usborne First Encyclopedia of Science

Usborne First Encyclopedia of Seas and Oceans

Handbook of Nature Study

Critical Thinking

My first grader will be doing this one alone. He’ll be going through the Critical and Creative Thinking Activities grade 1 workbook. This is our first year using these, so we’ll see how he likes them.

**This post contains affiliate links. These links don’t cost you any extra to use, but they do help us a little! Using affiliate links on your favorite blogs is always a nice thing to do.**

***While Amazon usually has much cheaper prices for classic books, I really love the hardback Barnes and Noble classics. If you go that route, take your declaration of intent or homeschool ID to your Barnes and Noble for an Educator’s Discount Card! You’ll get 20% off your books!***