Sunday, September 14, 2008


That's what I think my life has turned into:  a big ball of insanity.

We have an interim pastor lined up, thank God.  But she won't start until October 20, which leaves me with 6 more weeks on my own.  6 weeks in as the only pastor of a congregation of 400, here's what I've learned:

1.  preaching every week is a discipline that would require a lot more practice on my part.  And is also something I don't really want to do.  Possibly ever.  I know God is laughing her butt off as I say that. (anyone remember when I informed the Fourth Church session that what I had learned from Colloquium was that I didn't want to be in a church where I had to do three services on a Sunday morning?  hahahahahahhaah!! God said.)

2.  Preaching every week when you are also responsible for all the other ministries and programs (youth, education for kids and grown-ups, fellowship, etc etc etc) is very difficult.  I have complained about this before:  that if my job is already nearly 50 hours a week on programs, adding preaching on top of that (without removing any of those other responsibilities for that week) is really stressful.  I am working very hard on empowering laypeople to do ministry in all these areas, but that in itself takes a significant amount of work and time, in training and encouraging and resourcing and helping.  Not to mention the communication, which generally has to come through me/the office anyway.  I am committed to laypeople being the church and "doing church" together, following their calls in the church and in the world, etc etc. But that doesn't seem to be the end of my work, yet.

3.  I love preaching and planning and leading worship.  I hate turning in bulletins on time every week.

4.  I don't know anything about Stewardship and I don't really want to, but all of a sudden it looks like the entire campaign this year will be on "my" watch.  Crap.

5.  I also don't know anything about money, in general, so of course the Treasurer wants to go over the stuff with me before the session meeting.  I miss the days when I could just show up to a meeting and have that be good enough.

6.  If you're (well, if I'm) in charge of everything, some things fall through the cracks.  The thing falling through the cracks right now:  checking up on sick people.  Praise the Lord for the clerk of session who went to visit someone I'd visited once...only to discover she'd been moved somewhere else and no one had let us know. I'm pretty sure I should have figured that out sooner, but...there are only so many hours in a day.

7.  I really like being an Associate Pastor.  I don't want to be in charge of more than I already am.  And now that I'm sort of de facto in charge of everything, I worry about what happens when an interim comes and we have to negotiate a collegial relationship as well as the responsibilities that I might end up being sort of territorial about after 12 weeks on my own.  In fact, I stress about the possibilities in that working relationship a lot.  More than is probably necessary, since I can't do anything about it until she gets here.

8.  I need more bookshelves in my office.  Every flat surface is covered in stuff and I can't do anything in there until I get more storage.  I can't even tell you how tempting the empty bookshelves/table/desk/drawers/entire office next door is.

9.  days off are good good things, but rarer than they should be.  I want them to be more regular again.  6 weeks...

10.  I am very tired.  I have been coming home and falling immediately asleep, often on the couch.  Monday night I was out cold by 7pm.  I don't think I've stayed up past 9 more than once or twice in the past two weeks (aside from sermon-writing-saturday-nights, obv.).  I've had two whole days off this weekend, thanks to a guest preacher, and it feels like the most amazing luxury.  Except now I don't *even* want to go church tomorrow.  (sigh)

11.  People are always asking me questions I don't have the slightest idea how to answer.  What's up with that?

12.  I have more voicemail than I've ever had before.  

Okay, I have to stop.  I must go to bed (even though I napped most of the day away, post-massage...).  Tomorrow, even though I'm not preaching, is still a long day:  3 services, Inquirer's Class, and Middle School Youth Ministry kick-off.  For those keeping score at home, that's 7.30 prayer/children's sermon writing, 8.30 worship, 9.30 worship, 11.00 worship, 12.00 inquirer's class, 1.00 youth ministry.  woohoo.

I love my job, I love my job, I love my job...
(it's more than a job, it's a's more than a job, it's a calling...)


  1. I know how all of that feels. Even though my church is smaller, and i knew I was the one in charge when I got here, I still know exactly how you feel, which is why my next place will be different. I pray at east that your congregation is healthy!

    Prayers for the next 6 weeks and a good transition!

  2. My advice which is free and worth every penny: three words, dear:


    Call them if you haven't already.

  3. Oh, my. How can anyone expect this of you? I second Cheese's emotion.

  4. (((((Teri)))).
    Call COM!
    Take another spa day soon.
    Do somethign you enjoy everyday, even if only an hour (or 30 minutes)
    Get lots of cat therapy.
    I have been overwheelmed with bulletin stuff, makign agenda for session meetings, and being "the one" to make a decision on stuff. Only 108 members here and 5 are really sick...dang it!
    Make sure you get the needed rest and do fun stuff.
    My fun stuff is to go to an auction with my folks tomorrow night!
    Oh and the last important new word:

  5. The COM is already's just not clear that our Presbytery's COM is always the most put-together group ever. However our liaison is a friend of mine, which is helpful.

    I'm really doing relatively okay--i was in complainy mode apparently. And people keep asking me one of two questions (they never come from the same person...interesting): 1. "how are you doing on your own" or 2. "why can't you just be our senior pastor?"

    umm...1. i've been both better and worse. 2. Because that's not what I'm called to do and God is calling someone else to do that. Not to mention all the Presbyterian rules that don't allow it.

    sigh. (have I mentioned that I don't like mondays much?)

  6. Do you have deacons? Or a care committee to help with visitation???? Any retired clergy/social workers/health care folks you might press into service?

    And the stewardship thing...does it have to be on your watch? What role is the finance committee taking on this?? Could you begin the budgeting process as committees/session and wait for the Interim for stewardship campaign.

    I mean, I'm just wondering. And second finding the delegating switch, and the "which do you want to let go of OR help with to see that it doesn't drop" approach with the session. This is a time for them to set up, bigtime. At NDPC - we have NO pastoral staff yet (still looking for interim but think they are closer) and we are muddling thru pretty well, I hear/think. Session members are tired but working hard.

    Hang in there. You can't do it all Are you the temporary moderator of session, or has one been assigned from the presbytery until the interim arrives? That's another possibility....maybe?

    Praying continually.

  7. You live in an area with oodles and oodles of non-parish clergy who can preach. Suggest to Session that they invite a guest preacher for at least one or two of the Sundays between now and when the Interim arrives. If that doesn't seem appropriate do the old, "In honor of World Communion Sunday I am going to read X's classic sermon on Communion." (or the world-wide church. At least that gives you a little breathing room.

  8. I do have several retired clergy in the congregation, and they are preaching every other week until the interim arrives, which is REALLY helpful. but I still have to do their bulletins and liturgist instructions, still have to moderate session and oversee teams, resource youth leaders and show up at nearly everything....

    I actually had a surprisingly good week last week, complete with two whole days off. Good thing, since this week is insane...

  9. So if you need a good laugh...
    hop over to my blog and see the new tee-shirt I have.
    I am normally not "into" pink (unless it is breast cancer awareness type stuff) as it is not my best color.
    But, I loved the saying and the price was so right for me.