A typical week for a small-church pastor

A typical week for this small-church pastor, when everything goes according to plan:

Every day: Wake around 6:30am – 7am, sleep around 10:30pm. Kids are usually all in bed between 8pm-9pm. 

Sunday:  Grab something to eat while barely getting 3 kids out the the door by 8:15am. Services at  9am & 11am. Lunch on the go. Early afternoon take Communion to sick/homebound as needed. 5pm alternating between catechesis (ongoing instruction in the faith) and small-group. Home around 7pm.

Monday: Get kids out the door by 7:45am, hang out with them during school breakfast. Head back home for prayer time at 9am. Head to gym around 10am. Pastoral/networking meetings for lunch, preliminary sermon prep at the church office in the afternoon. Take one kid to martial arts at 5pm. Home around 7pm. Chores/email/reading/Clash Royale, etc 8pm-9:30pm.

Tuesday: Drop kids at school around 8:30am, back at home for prayer at 9am. Go for a run after that, and stay home the rest of the day work on sermon uninterrupted. Hang out with kids while Amber runs worship rehearsal at church from 5pm-7pm. Spend time hanging out with Amber around 8:00pm – 9:30pm.

Wednesday: Drop my youngest at daycare around 8am. Head to church for some prayer time in sanctuary before bread delivery ministry 9:30am-10:30am. 11am meeting with my admin. Finish any admin stuff I haven’t done so far: bulletin, newsletter, scheduling volunteers, emails, etc. Pick up daughter from day care at 1pm, head to get the other two from early release at school. Home around 3pm, hang with kids till Amber gets home close to 4:30pm. Back to the church at 5pm for a meal with our homeless friends. Back home around 7:30pm for bedtime. 8pm-9:30pm chores/email/reading/Clash Royale, etc.

Thursday: Drop kids at school at 8:30am, head to church. Prayer time, followed by my weekly review at 10:00 am to make sure nothing is falling through the cracks. 12:15pm Holy Eucharist service. 1:30pm – 2:30pm pastoral/networking meetings, admin tasks, etc. Home by 3:15pm to meet Amber and pick up kids from school together. From there head to yoga (gym childcare ftw) 4:30-5:30. Home around 6pm, dinner/family time till 8pm. Then chores/email/reading/Clash Royale, etc until 9:30pm.

Friday: I try to make Fridays my Sabbath. I take the kids to school, then usually head to gym. Have some prayer time. Once a month I see my spiritual director on this day. Watch my youngest daughter 3pm – 7pm while Amber picks up the others and heads to their activities (martial arts and ballet). Around 8pm hang out with Amber.

Saturday: Family activities including getting together with friends all day. After kids go to bed sermon review.

 

Skye Jethani’s IMMEASURABLE is a book I’d like to give every person just starting out in ministry

I’m very grateful to be part of the launch team for Skye Jethani’s brand new book Immeasurable: Reflections on the Soul of Ministry in the Age of Church, Inc. As part of the launch team, I got this book for free in exchange for a fair review. I signed up on a whim; but I’m really glad I did.

Immeasurable is a book I’d like to give every person just starting out in ministry. It is a much-needed antidote to the consumer-driven, success-by-the-numbers approach of a lot (if not most) of what passes as “Church leadership training” these days.

Skye does a great job of distilling and applying some of the best ideas of the “giants” he thanks at the beginning of the book—guys like Eugene Peterson, Dallas Willard, Brennan Manning, and Henri Nouwin.

If young pastors and new leaders start here, they’ll be on a virtual launch pad to much of the best literature out there on the essence of pastoral ministry, and they’ll be exposed to ideas and stories and will likely challenge them deeply.

Skye casts a deeply inspiring vision of pastoral ministry that encouraged me think about “church growth” as something much deeper than attendance numbers or even theological education. Instead, Skye urges pastors and leaders to consider growth in terms of communion with Christ and empowerment of the laity to deeply pursue their own spiritual growth.

According to Skye, Christian ministry must never be fully equated with mission, as vital as that is, but rather must retain real relationship with God as the ultimate end. This is so easily lost today when—as he reminds us—so many good things (like people in the pews and a passion for God’s mission in the world) become ultimate things.

This book is nothing less than a guide on how to avoid the ever-present temptations of idolatry for ministers. Above all, Immeasurable reminds us that ministry can never be about control; like all of life, it must be about communion.

A note on format of the book: it’s divided into 24 chapter that can each be read in about 20 minutes or less. Each chapter is more-or-less a self-contained essay on a different topic, ranging from the role of ambition in ministry, to preaching, to simplicity, to building influence and beyond. Each chapter has a few questions for reflection at the end. This format lends itself to serious reading and thought, and would be great to go through slowly with leadership teams. I could also see this being used for training programs for new leaders, with the questions being jump-off points for discussion with mentors.

Highly recommended.

→ Get it on Amazon

5 powerful ways to leverage Trello for church

Trello, the digital Kanban and project management software, is all the rage for personal productivity and collaborative project management. Its simple and intuitive interface combined with clever features and powerful integrations with other services have rightly caused it to ascend to the upper echelon of similar tools. The more I use Trello for church, the more excited I get about the possibilities.

If you’ve never checked out Trello, now’s the time. Before you go on with these tips, you might want to read my brief primer.

Here’s how you can leverage the power the Trello for church:

1) Collaborative task management. I’ve set up a simple shared board  between me (the rector of my church) and my administrative assistant with the following lists:

  • Todo
  • Doing
  • Done
  • Resources

All of those are pretty self-explanatory. I add stuff to the Todo list and my assistant moves it to the appropriate list. I clear out the done list after reviewing every week or so.

The Resources list has links to some of the other systems we use and attachments for quick reference.

2) Leadership onboarding. I am in the process of working through exactly what this should look like for us, but you can easily put together a Trello board with essential information for new leaders. Possible lists could be:

  • Team/Staff – with a card/photo for each person on staff
  • HR Docs
  • Policies
  • Church docs – constitution, bylaws, etc.

3) Internal calendar planning/brainstorming. Make a board for the year and list for each month. Add events as cards and drag them around as needed during your brainstorming sessions.

4) Worship set planning. Worship leaders can make a Trello board with a list for each Sunday and card for each song. Drag and drop makes it easy move stuff around as needed in the set, and you can also attach chord sheets, etc to the cards for band members or other leaders.

5) Sermon series planning. Create a board for your series with lists for each week/sermon/talk, and add cards for things like:

  • Preacher
  • Main passage
  • Theme
  • Title
  • Song ideas
  • Graphics

You’ll have everything in one place and can easily share and collaborate with your team as needed. Here’s a pic of a sermon series I planned out with Trello:

Trello for church: sermon series planning

The flexibility and power of using Trello for church means that you’re only limited by your own creativity when it comes to streamlining your church’s processes and communication.

The best part about using Trello for church?

You can do everything I’ve outlined above absolutely free. Upgrading will get you a some extra perks when it comes to backgrounds and integrations, but it’s not at all necessary to get started with this amazing tool for ministry.

Did I mention their mobile apps are free and awesome, too? You’ll have all this stuff at your fingertips when on the go.

I hope this post has been helpful in giving you some ideas on how to use Trello to level up your planning, organization, and collaboration in your own church context.

How I’m Getting Things Done with Field Notes

For context, you’ll want to read Getting Things Done: Tools, Practices, & Principles 

Field Notes are the clever, collectible (and thus, a bit addictive), design-focused notebooks that all the bloggers rave about. They really are fun, fairly affordable, and quite useful.

I use my Field Notes as my pocket notebook. It goes where I go to capture thoughts and ideas while out-and-about. I also use them to plan out my day.

When I’m disciplined, it goes like this:

  • At night, I’ll prepare the page for the next day by writing the day of the week, month, date, and liturgical feast if applicable at the top of the page.
  • Right below that I will write down the readings for Morning and Evening Prayer for the Daily Office.
  • On the left side of the page, I will list the most important things I’d like to get done for the day (no more than six usually). As the day goes on I just capture item below that to make a running list.
  • On the right side of the page I’ve started making a simple daily agenda from 9-5 with any hard commitments I’ve made so I can see my day at a glance and add to it as necessary.

I’ve used Patrick Rhone’s Dash/Plus system (similar to Bullet Journal) as a quick way to indicate meta info on each list item.

Here’s what a typical daily page looks like:

 

I use a Pilot G2 .07 mechanical pencil to write in my FN, which I love, because the metal tip retracts when not in use, making this a pocket-friendly pencil.

If you want, you can get tons of nice covers for your Field Notes, but they’re fine without, as long as you are okay with your notebook developing some character. I like having a bit of extra protection for my notes, so I had a cover custom made from this Etsy shop.

 

How I’m Getting Things Done with Trello

For context, you’ll want to read Getting Things Done: Tools, Practices, & Principles and Say hello to Trello, a new tool to organize your life and ministry

I have a “team” in Trello called Trusted System. Within that team I have six boards:

  • Next
  • Projects
  • Tickler
  • Someday/Maybe
  • Reference Lists
  • Horizons & Areas of Focus

Next

My Next board has four lists of cards:

  • Inbox – for throwing stuff in as go throughout my day
  • Waiting for  – anything that needs to get done ASAP but I’m still waiting on someone else’s action (reply to an email, etc)
  • Next – Stand alone physical next actions ( for example “move bookshelf from living room to hall nook”)
  • Agendas – One card containing a list of things to talk about, per person need. There’s always agenda cards for my wife, bishop, associate pastor, administrative assistant, plus a few others as needed.

I use Trello color-coded “labels” for contexts. My contexts are:

  • Home
  • DMAC (the church I pastor)
  • Read
  • Phone
  • Errands
  • Anywhere
  • Laptop

Projects

My Projects board contains anything that that requires more than one physical next action. As I review this board every week, I add physical next actions to my next board. I have two lists on this one:

  • Current – Projects that are active
  • Pending/Delegated – Similar to “Waiting for” on my Next board.

Reference Lists

This is a pretty flexible board that just contains any lists I need on regular basis for reference. Mostly just packing lists as this point.

Someday Maybe

My Someday Maybe board has six boards, each with stuff I’d like to do eventually, but are not at all pressing. As I review this I move these things to the appropriate places on my Projects or Next boards. My lists are:

  • Personal Projects
  • DMAC (the church I pastor)
  • Writing
  • Stuff to buy
  • Home & Family

Tickler

This functions as a complement to my physical tickler file and my digital calendar. It is made of four lists:

  • January – March
  • April – June
  • July – September
  • October – December

As I go through the year I drag the current quarter to the left so it’s always the first one I see. I use this to put date-specific reminders, files/confirmation numbers I’ll need etc.  This is for stuff that needs to happen around a certain date/month, but is not set in stone. So “schedule eye exam – January” I’ll just throw in January-March. When I review this board, I’ll move stuff to the appropriate place as needed: Projects, Next, or my calendar.

Horizons & Areas of Focus

This board is made up five lists. The first list is Mission and Core Values. The first card contains my personal mission statement:

“Help others discover and grow in the great love of God.”

Below that I have a card for each of my core values:

  • Spirituality
  • Family
  • Fellowship
  • Fun
  • Service
  • Stewardship
  • Creativity
  • Rest

In each of those cards I have a list of core habits I try to cultivate. So in the “Stewardship” card I have:

  • Spend less than I make
  • Exercise at least 3 times per week
  • Review calendar weekly

The other lists are “areas of focus” or “spheres of life.”

  • Husband
  • Father
  • Parish Priest
  • Musician

Each of those lists has four cards:

  • Desires – Specific ideas of what I want to be like in these areas
  • Actions – Concrete ways to move toward the vision (no more than 3 at a time)
  • Challenges – Thinking ahead to possible obstacles
  • Vision – A description of  the big-picture “end result” in each of these areas