Lament of the Part Time Parson

I know churches have financial realities, but look at some of the other numbers.

What happens when you have a fractional placement, also known as a part-time minister? If the minister is "your" minister and does not / cannot pull an old service out of the box in the way an occasional preacher may, then it takes...

♦   6 – 8 hours: Exegesis and sermon preparation
♦   8 – 12 hours: Service preparation. This will be an ordinary church service. You want a series, something special, a baptism— add multiple hours. You don't have an organist, or someone who can prepare data projector slides and music? Add multiple multiple hours.
♦   6 -7 hours: Service presentation on the day. I get up at 6 on Sundays and get home around 1pm. Just about 1.5 hours of that is breakfast and a shower.

Total Time: 7 + 10 + 6 hours = 23 hours for the service
A .3 Placement = 24 hours

Church Council meetings, visiting, and any planning are all extras, unless your minister just skimps on worship and preaching. And then the rot sets it, for the bringer of the Word is not doing the job properly. At best they may become a dab hand at stitching together someone else's words not chosen for your congregation.

I remember my first "Placement," filling in for a Minister's 6 week Long Leave. Someone commented on my excellent preaching and worship leading, comparing it to the pedestrian effort of their minister. I asked them to list all the other things they required him to do on top of the two weekly worship services with their different sermons. Then told them that the student minister was only preparing worship and preaching and that was taking close to 40 hours a week.

Part time placements impoverish both clergy and parish.

They are an invitation to descend into mediocrity. Don't read the signs of the times, there is not enough time. Use cookie cutter prayers, stick with the familiar, use the same old hymns. Don't look for words that apply to your people and situation, don't get seriously creative about prayer for the day, and don't think about new ways of being church instead of keeping on dying— let alone preach them— there is not time. The downward spiral has begun and there is no time to stop.

Andrew... contemplating the new year.



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