Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What do I do at work all day?

Many people have no idea what a clergy person does during the week. Most believe that we work all week on a sermon for Sunday. This really upsets most people when they find out that I don't preach every week. Other people think that we only work on Sunday mornings and have the rest of the week off.

So in order to end the confusion here's a list of the top things that most clergy do during the week (for work that is):

1) Work on their sermons (or whatvever it is they do on Sundays - ie youth group, children's ministry). It can take up a lot of our time or a little. Just depends on the week, the topic, and how the Spirit is moving.

2) Pastoral care: This is a fancy word for listening to people who need an ear. I could say a lot of interesting details about what really goes on here but most of the time these discussions are confidential. They range from marital/parental/congregational relationships to confessions to spiritual direction to major mental health issues that must be referred onto someone else.

3) Administrative: Emails, reserving space for retreats, organizing a retreat, updating the web site, planning a small group lesson, returning phone calls, meetings with congregation members, meetings with other clergy, meetings with a Cabinet memeber etc.

4) Visioning: Thinking about the future of the church and where it should be going. This includes creating, refining, casting and evaluating a mission and vision statement.

5) Hospital visits: This could also be included under pastoral care but depending on the church the clergy serves this can take up one or two days a week.

6) Fellowship/relationship building: This can overlap at times with some of the above but building relationships with people in the congregation and people in the community goes a LONG way toward building disciples. I include Twitter and Facebook in this catagory.

7) Praying: Okay everyone should do this not just clergy and clergy are probably the worst at forgetting to pray but a LOT of time needs to be spent in prayer by clergy if we are to do all of the above.

8) Teaching: Blogging, leading a small group, teaching others to lead a Bible study etc...

I'm sure that there's a large number of other things that I've left out. If you've read my blog before you know that I once herded cattle as part of my job. I'm not sure how to categorize that one.

But did you notice what is not on here? Growing the numbers of the church in people or money. Huh?!? How can one be successful as a pastor if one does not have droves of people coming in and lots of money to go with it?

Growth in numbers is a result of these 8 things but not the final destination. I can get people to come to church a few times and can probably get them to give to a specific cause but unless their hearts are changed I've really done no good. If I can help change some hearts then those people can change the world and the numbers will come with it.

So now you know what I do. And I've given myself permission to tool around on Facebook as well!

Until Everyone Hears,

Friday, July 3, 2009

Cultural Differences

Going to visit different places is interesting. I love going to other countries and being immersed into a different culture. Learning a new language, customs, and even their religious practices are fascinating. But what strikes me the oddest is discovering the cultural differences in our own country and even in our own family.


I've been married for 15 years now and discover something new about my in laws every time I visit. This week I've ventured out of Dixie-land to north of the Mason-Dixon line into upstate New York. One must clarify upstate as NYC it a totally different culture from those who are upstate. From the outside there are many similarities to the house my husband grew up in and the home I grew up in. We both grew up in small ranch houses that had yards big enough for vegetable gardens and a dog but not necessarily enough hot water for the showers in the morning before school starts. We both have family restaurants that we tend to want to visit on occasion. We also both grew up in the capital city areas of our states (Albany and Atlanta). So there is a definite political feel that you don't get elsewhere in the state (or at least a different political feel).


The differences of course still make me pause even after all these years. First of all my husband's family is Ukrainian. There are several objects (eggs, candles, fabric etc) that are in the home that show this part of their heritage. Along with being Ukrainian they are Ukrainian Catholic. Not an orthodox church but similar in style. Their home has many icons, statues, and religious relics that you just wouldn't find in a southern Protestant home. And finally the main thing that still makes me do a double take is the collection of Gone With the Wind decorative plates that John's mom has in her kitchen. You would think that growing up in Atlanta, I would think this normal and charming. But it just seems so out of place with the picture of The Last Supper hanging next to it, the Pepsi glasses they keep in the kitchen, and the grill in the backyard that they constantly call the barbequer.


Despite the differences, I love coming up here. I love being able to get away from home and going some place that I can also call home. Each year I get more and more comfortable here and I actually miss the crazy aunts and cousins that have embraced me into their family.


We leave tomorrow for New Jersey to visit John's best friend since Kindergarten and his best man from our wedding. I know that at the end of that visit I'll still be awed at the Jersey hairstyles and crazy crossroads they have where you can't turn left. And even though they'll be so many differences between us, I know that we'll find something in common that will link us.


This is the best thing about Cultural differences. Whether its God or love or business or family, there is almost always common ground and those are the places where we can discover a home away from home.


Until Everyone Hears,

The Trickster

There is a character in most folklore known as the trickster. The Trickster at first seems to be a bad character. Who really wants to be tri...