The ins and outs of planning your week of ministry
“What do you do all week?”
The junior high student who asked me that actually followed it up with, “Do you drive a school bus?” Nothing wrong with driving a school bus, of course. But the point is that some people in our church probably wonder what we do between services, and some of us may be wondering the same thing once Monday morning hits.
Thus the argument for a “master schedule,” a premeditated layout of an ideal week where you schedule your goals and priorities into your week and stick by the plan, except for emergencies or illness. It keeps you on target, because you schedule items related to your own spiritual and physical health, your family, long- and short-range goals, evangelism, discipleship, church unity, and the other things we all hold dear.
These things will not happen by accident, or even by “sovereignty,” which some may use as an excuse for wondering why something good did not happen.
You may not agree with everything we suggest, and the three of us differ a little. But you almost have to agree that we must “work out our church good health with fear and trembling,” to paraphrase Philippians 2:12, before we can count on God working in us and with us, as promised in verse 13.
Knute, with Jeff and Jim
Read the conversation here or download the PDF »
After God, family and sermon prep, what top three categories should be in the pastor’s weekly schedule?
• Leadership development.
• Vision development and vision casting.
• Staff health and development.
• Shepherding your people by following up on emails, phone calls, and meetings.
• Exercise and a complete health plan, to be growing spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
• Developing teammates with coaching, mentoring, and discipleship.
• His own rest and sleep schedule—so that these are not haphazard or bumped by leisure habits or important things.
• Physical exercise, as in taking care of the body, is profitable for a time, and also is directly related to respect people have for you and also stamina.
• Appointments with people, including your own true discipleship group to develop leaders and strong Christians and as an example to other staff; various leaders before meetings; and new people or people in need.
• Many differ with me on this, but I think a pastor can do too much counseling, even some he’s not equipped to guide. A good master schedule and a tie with a strong nearby Christian Bible-guided counseling center, helps to avoid this.
What is the good of a regular master schedule?
It brings order, consistency, allows for balance, and lays out a big picture.
• Keeps you on track and the church on mission.
• Keeps you proactive instead of only reactive to the daily activities of the church.
• Forces preparation and good administration skills.
• Allows a measurable path to evaluate ministry.
• Accomplishes goals that are connected to the mission of the church.
• It keeps you on target with your goals, allowing you to attack your week instead of the week and urgent matters determining what you do and crowding out the important A good master or target schedule starts with goals for yourself, family, and the church and its mission, and then you schedule your life to get there!
• Obviously when there is an emergency or a special family need, you put the master schedule second, but you do not break it just because you do not feel like doing something or it is hard. I am not sure I would have visited the shut-ins regularly in our first church unless it appeared on the third Thursday of each month, 2:00pm!
• I do think you even schedule your family and dates with your wife and time with each child one on one when possible so that prayers and goals for these relationships get attention and action love.
• In my coaching of pastors, making a master schedule is one of the first assignments I give. And then we talk about priorities and how to get them into this schedule.
Why do you think some pastors favor a “play it by ear” approach?
• Sometimes they believe it’s spiritual.
• For many of them, it’s that they simply do not have the gift of administration.
• They are lazy, perhaps not good leaders, or weak in vision.
• They might be burned out.
• They aren’t visionary and lack a forward path for their church.
• Many seminary classes (which are scheduled to begin and end at a certain time) do not touch this subject, and not all senior pastors ask it of staff, and many pastors who mentor others just approach each week as see what happens, except for study time. So it can be a weak area that must be deliberately changed.
• Some pastors do just “see what needs the Lord brings to them” instead of this disciplined way to put goals into your schedule. I would say this has some laziness influence.
• Does it relate at all to the trend to see pastoring as a 40-hour-a week job, with most of those hours getting filled by obvious duties and study time?
Jeff Bogue, of Grace Church, in several locations in the Bath-Norton-Medina areas of Ohio; Jim Brown, of Grace Community Church in Goshen, Indiana, a church known for its strong growth, family and men’s ministries, and community response teams; and Knute Larson, a coach of pastors, who previously led The Chapel in Akron for 26 years.
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