Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday Five - Sometimes it's Just a Job

The RevGalBlogPals are talking about the Job

1) What are a few of the tasks that you find tedious/energy sucking in your ministry position? Please note I said 'tasks' not people :)
 Come around February every year I have to fill out the dreaded Parochial Report.  Is there a pastor that enjoys that?  I get knots in my stomach just thinking about it.  Number numbers numbers swimming in my head and they never come out right.  It doesn't help that no treasurer has ever done his/her report the way the form asks.
It used to make me cry until one day I called up a synod treasurer and asked if they checked if my numbers were correct.  "No" he answered like I'm stupid  ~ "All we have is what you give us.  Oh so I could like, make up a number and nobody would know?  
Ever since then it's been much less stressful because I make up numbers.  They are close so the ELCA is getting good picture.  But it's a made up number. 

2) Is there anything you could do to make one of them better?
Yea.  Have the secretary or treasurer do it like I hear happens in some churches.

3) What are a few of the tasks that you find energizing in ministry?
I just love to teach--especially people that want to learn.  Nothing gives me a buzz like hearing "Oh gee pastor, nobody ever explained it like that before.  That really makes sense"  
I like teaching confirmation unless I get one of those classes where they just stare at me blank eyed.   I'd rather have kids talking and asking crazy off the wall questions and poking each other than the glassy eyed stares.  Fortunately I have had more of the talking crazy questions spitball throwing classes than the dreaded silent ones.

4) If given a quarterly spiritual day, how would you want to spend it?
I would go  to a Benedictine retreat center, read those books that I can't read at night (my usual reading time) because they are too deep and they put me to sleep, walk a labyrinth, eat delicious healthy bread made by nuns and sing the Psalms with them.

5) If given a quarterly spiritual day, how would you actually spend it?
No really I'd do that if I could.  If I couldn't, I'd read a couple of chapters of my deep book and then take a nap.

BONUS: What would your Dream Ministry job include?
Adults excited about a church history class.


  1. Your Dream Ministry line made me laugh out loud - in a supportive way. I keep trying to tell people it makes a difference to know these things.

    Thanks for playing!

  2. I soooo hear you about the Parochial reports. One of the fringe benefits of being here is that someone else does them. not the pastors. but not only did I do them, I had to do them for three churches.

  3. As council president, I had to do our report one year when we were between pastors. It was BRUTAL.

  4. I am one of the pastors Kate was between, so let me say right up front that, although I occasionally estimate numbers, I don't make them up. Exactly.

    Nor do I do what it seems that many, many pastors do: simply not turn in the reports. Seriously, go to the ELCA's "find a congregation" function, and look at trend reports for churches in your neighborhood. See all those that only show a change in membership, benevolence or anything else once every five years or so? Just saying.

    In my first parish, I had a predecessor who did both those things, and in a funny way. He didn't exactly "make up" the average attendance number. He simply gave the attendance for Easter Sunday 1990. Over and over and over.

  5. I've had bishops when I was interviewing for a call in their synod ask me if my parochial report was up to date. It's often late but I'm very suspectible to nagging so I've always done it. Except this year because well, I figured who cares now?

  6. I got a few laughs from your posting even though I'm not a pastor. For one thing, I often look up churches on the ELCA's find a church thing. It is fairly easy to figure out when a church's membership numbers were either adjusted for honesty or the lists were purged. And I know of one church, where I actually preached one time about 22 years ago, that has been vacant for maybe 35 years, but it still shows up on the congregation finder. How does the ELCA allow that???

    I have a friend who has escaped for the weekend to a Benedictine retreat center....good for her. She says her husband, a fine fellow, is made of velcro, so she needed to get away. I "let" my husband go away for the weekend...actually, he didn't give me a choice, so I guess I'm on my own retreat now.

    And the confirmation classes: When I think back on mine, way back in the last century, the 20 of us just sat like lumps and listened and recited. I don't think we were lumpy teens, but the era was SO very different. Even the PK in the class wasn't a cut up. Sheesh times have changed. I agree, spirited kids are more inspirational and fun.