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Students at commencement

Ministry in Context

So what do pastors do?

When our children were young they all enjoyed one of those delightfully intricate Richard Scarry books, What Do People Do All Day? This book introduced them to the great spectrum of work done inside and outside the home every day. My grandchildren are about ready for it now.

I sometimes think that the first question to be answered on internship is, "What do pastors do all day?" The average person might be a faithful participant in the life of a congregation, but only have a vague understanding of what it is the pastor does to fill up the week. Sunday morning is pretty clear, but what about after that?

On Easter Sunday, I saw an interesting example of what it is that pastors do; a microcosm of the pastor's life in the actions of one young pastor over slightly more than 60 minutes. This pastor serves on a large staff, but there is a truth here that fits the pastor in a congregation of any size.

We arrived for the sunrise service at about 5:45 a.m., and there he was, standing alb-clad in the doorway, coffee in his hand, greeting worshippers as they arrived. He started with hospitality. At that particular worship service, he had no particular up-front responsibility, but when the time came for sharing communion, there he was in the chancel, taking bread and wine and heading up to the balcony to serve communion to the choir.

Worship ended. The sunrise service congregation was leaving. The crowd for the next service was starting to arrive. This is a city congregation with limited parking. Arrangements had been made for off-duty police officers to be present to direct traffic, but some apparently were late in arriving. So there was the same pastor again, in alb and orange reflector vest, yellow flag in hand, standing in the street by the entrance to the parking lot directing traffic.

So he went from greeting, to serving communion, to directing traffic. What's the point? He was doing whatever needed to be done at the time. Humble work, a lot of it. Not high profile. But necessary just the same. And the great thing about this pastor is that he was willing to do whatever needed to be done. I can only imagine what he wound up doing the rest of the day.

What do pastors do all day? Whatever needs to be done to extend God's mission!

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