Saturday, July 01, 2006


I wonder how many pastors count Saturday as a workday. I don't mean 'I need to finish my sermon instead of going to Billy's baseball game' either. I mean, I wonder how many pastors declare that, if congregants really need you, they can count on you being in the office sometime that day, or you purposely schedule an event that day because you'll be working anyway. Finishing the sermon is a perk because you don't feel like you're sacrificing time that could otherwise be spent...well...doing anything fun. Or maybe one feels that way regardless.

I switched Saturday to a workday around the new year. I thought that it would give me an opportunity to catch up with all those congregation members who have 9-5 weekday jobs. So far, this move has not yielded the results I've been seeking, partially because I don't think I've really taken advantage of the possibilities yet. It does help for scheduling new member classes, and there are plenty of activities scheduled on Saturdays anyway, where I don't feel like I'm taking time out of a day off to do them.

Still, I haven't fully adjusted to the concept of working on Saturday. This is the sacred do-nothing day for many people (and it is perhaps a little naive of me to think that people who work all week would want to spend even part of it with their pastor, outside of worship which is built into the schedule). I DO like the lack of set office hours one less day a week. If I had to just sit in my office four mornings a week, I'd get some sort of church office cabin fever. Saturdays have become my flexible day...I set my own schedule (a good chunk of which IS devoted to the sermon). Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are my more typical office hours/committee meeting/Bible study/afternoon retiree visit times. Saturdays invite more creativity. They are the day for youth outings and lunches with 20-somethings. They are for weddings and swiss steak. They are for last-minute sermon prep and discussing baptism with young families. In the culture of this particular church anyway, working on Saturdays makes sense. You can't get 'em to do much of anything on Sundays (it's unofficially designated as Family Day), so Saturdays are the next option.

Of course, it won't be like this forever. My wife has hated this arrangement since I made the switch. And once we have a kid old enough to go to school, there's no way I'm giving up my entire Saturday.

So for now, it works. On the flip side, Mondays as a day off are freakin' awesome. I kind of shorthand myself in terms of all those national holiday Mondays (Labor Day, MLK, Memorial Day), but I love the feeling of walking out after the benediction and thinking, 'Okay...we'll pick up again on Tuesday.' Yeah, that's the stuff.


Unknown said...

Friday is my sacrosanct day off. But I find that in a week with a Monday holiday I *say* I'm going to take the holiday, too, but really end up doing a little work, and then find it hard to keep Friday clear. For the past several months I've just given in to the fact that I'm almost always still working on the sermon on Saturday and striven to make my Friday boundaries even stricter. But that's easy for me to say because 50 Saturdays a year or so, my kids are with their father that day, so I am not taking time away from them.

Anonymous said...

When you are not a full time pastor and have another full time job, Saturday is the day for ministry. There are no days off. Even with a congregation of 80 (55 attending-25 a year and a half ago) there is always something, weddings, regional meetings, counseling, fundraisers, fellowship events, special events, not to mention the sermon, Sunday school lesson and the evening church program. It's the day to meet with people who want to join and people who want to be baptized and/or join the church. Saturday's are always busy. I'm thankful for the rare Saturday when the lessons and the sermon are all that have to be prepared.
Normally we are not in the office, we are there among them doing whatever. It is never boring.

Some people do like to spend time with the pastor on Saturday (over coffee for example)if they know you are available.

My kids are no longer in school. It is too hard if they are. Hope you are in a big church where everybody goes ahead and does stuff without you.

We do it because we love the Lord. The church cannot afford to pay a full time position yet. Even if they could, we have obligations and cannot affford to take the low salary they might soon be able to offer.

will smama said...

I started out with Fridays off and found that I will close enough to Sunday that I was not enjoying it as a day off.

You are right. Mondays off ARE the stuff.

Anonymous said...

So all of you are saying you take Monday or Saturday and work Sunday, but everyone not in the profession takes two full days off plus the holiday and if something comes up and they aren't around on Sunday that's okay, but you are still expected to be there for youth fellowship, wedding planning that people want to do on Sunday afternoon or confirmation class... Where is your other "day off"?

Questing Parson said...

Hey, looking back on my forty + years of experience, I think you're on to something here with this working on Saturday -- provided you're creative enough to use that work day to get to know folks better by going to places like ball games, the zoo, and hundreds of other places pastors should share with their people, and vice versa.

Jeff Nelson said...

Another Anonymous, my other day off is Friday. That hasn't changed since I started here. It's actually nice to work three days, off one, work two days, off one. Time off doesn't seem to take forever to come.

Questing Parson, welcome. I've used the day to attend one youth's doubleheader softball game, which I thought worthwhile because there were a few families there. I'm just starting to embrace the more incarnational side to being a pastor. That is, my being in the stands communicates something to those around me.