Somedays, I have thoughts that focus on how I spend my time. This morning, was such a time as I reflected on the day to come and the past several days. The thoughts were something like: I spend so much of my time networking that I often don’t feel like a churchy person. From Tuesday through Friday, it seems as though all I did was go to meetings, meet people, even meet some new people and put a check in the mental “networking” box that accounts for my time. Other boxes to check should include “evangelizing” and “pastoring” though in truth it would difficult to compartmentalize these activities.
This morning’s reflection, however, reminded me that after Friday Saturday and Sunday were all spent pastoring or evangelizing. Saturday, as usual, I finished researching the scripture and wrote the sermon (“Lord, It’s Hard to be Humble” from Luke 18:9-14) and pulled together the Sunday worship bulletin, found a worship leader (you think that Saturday is a bit late for that?), copied music that our musician had requested, practiced the sermon and rewrote what I thought needed changing, then went to a dinner at the local university so that I could, perhaps, meet a few new people who are part of the university (and eat a delicious meal at the same time), then went to the first half of a musical program, came home and finished up for Sunday. Went to bed at 11PM. Alternating between each of these, I cut up and cooked bacon for Sunday’s Fourth Sunday Supper.
Early Sunday morning, I got up, showed and dressed, ate something then left for church in Mansfield allowing sufficient time for a stop at the local grocery to pick up communion bread and grapes and The New York Times for our discussion over coffee. On my way to church, after the grocery stop, the worship leader texted me that she was ill and would not be coming. At church, the fire detector was talking loudly to me, so I fiddled with it - it could not need a battery since it is hard wired. Just about 9AM, I asked another congregation member to be worship leader and she agreed - first time ever. About 9:45, I tried to collect myself so that I could be ready for worship at 10AM. Forgot the children’s message until time to think of it just before the sermon. Since I do a children’s version of the gospel for them, it generally is not too difficult. The kids make this part of worship a special joy.
After worship, I collected my thoughts and drove back to Wellsboro and prepared for the inaugural gathering of Soul Link Too - a different worship service designed to attract the seekers who live in Wellsboro but don’t travel to Mansfield. That began at 1:30 - with ending time at 3:00. Only one person came, but I have committed myself to six months, so we will see what happens for the next several months. At 3:00 I drove back to Mansfield for Fourth Sunday Supper - where I act as pastor and visit with many people. This month, the church served 78 people. The menu was baked potatoes with all the trimmings. By the time all cleanup was finished and I drove home, I fell onto the couch in time to stare at the TV and see who was eliminated from The Amazing Race. It was 12 hours since I had left that morning.
Today, I spent most of my day reading: the final section of Chopra’s The Third Jesus, read a few chapters of a fund raising book aimed at the church, did some preliminary work for a three-week session on the Enneagram scheduled for three weeks in November, and outlined the agenda for our board meeting on Thursday. A bit of the morning was a meeting with one congregation member who has access to pumpkins for pumpkins carving next Sunday evening.
Looking back, each of those are pastoral. No pastoral work can happen unless there are people, unless there is the church, unless there is preparation. None were huge weddings, and thankfully, no funerals; other deep listening opportunities cannot be counted as actual counseling, but each have their role in today’s church as they always have. Some make me feel great, and a few not so good. Worship statistics can be discouraging when only 24 fill the pews; however, church reaches so far beyond the walls that those in the pews receive one type of pastoral attention and those who did not make it to the church but made it to another place where they looked to me as their pastor found another type of pastoral attention.
So, I guess I am a pastor. A pastor who is planting a church. Occasionally I need to remind myself about this.