What Does a Pastor Do?

In his weekly correspondence with the clergy of the Pensacola District, our Superintendent Jeremy Pridgeon posted the following information. For those of you who think that a pastor only works one day a week, I humbly present this information for your perusal.

“I have been reading a book entitled God's Ambassadors: A History of Christian Clergy in America, by Brooks Holifield. It is an excellent review of the work of ministry in this country since the arrival of the first settlers hundreds of years ago. In the book, Holifield includes a section about the modern clergy and the work we do as pastors. Holifield cites a study by two sociologists, Gary Kuhne and Joe Donaldson, who spent a week observing five Protestant ministers that shed light on the busyness of pastors. Here are some of the findings:

Clergy work an average of 51 hours a week.
Clergy averaged 41 discrete activities every day.
Almost half of these activities lasted 5 minutes or less.
Only 6% of these activities lasted more than an hour.
Clergy spent of their time in scheduled events (counseling, committee meetings, funerals, weddings, worship, etc...).
Desk work required 23% of their time (12 hours a week, with 5 hours devoted to sermon preparation).
12% of the time clergy were in their cars, taking an average of 5 trips a day.
There were 13 scheduled and unscheduled meetings everyday, with scheduled meetings taking approximately 45 minutes and unscheduled meetings lasting 7 minutes on average.
Clergy averaged 8 phone conversations a day, with each lasting around 4 minutes.
Clergy devoted several minutes to prayer and meditation.
Clergy had an average of 31 contacts with persons in the course of a day, which could be casual, crucial, or tragic, which meant that clergy had to shift their moods and responses quickly.

The sociologists concluded that the work of clergy was marked by "brevity, fragmentation, and variety." Does this pace sound familiar? There are those times where there never seems to be enough hours in the day and the activities are so numerous and different it is difficult to keep up! This type of work can only be understood by others who share in knowledge of what it is like to be a pastor. This underscores our need to be in relationship and keep fellowship with one another for prayer, support, and encouragement. And, to the degree we can, we must also be mindful of the appropriate boundaries of home and personal life, so as to avoid the potential for burnout or isolation.”



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