Soon after I was accepted for training to the ministry, I was given a book by one Fred Secombe (brother of the late Harry, apparently) called "Chronicles of a Curate". It reads rather like "All Creatures Great and Small", being set in a similar era, when every church had at least one Vicar and probably a couple of curates, and a relatively small, well defined patch of ground to work in. It was a blissful time - Fred seems to have spent most of his time going around the parish from one family to the next, building relationships, teaching, encouraging, and bringing people together. Ministers were a sort of communal glue in those days - keeping families and communities together.
How different from today! Most weeks, for me, involve a significant amount of administration, on a computer that Fred would not have even thought possible. There's the whole job of planning, promoting and delivering all the different ways in which we are working to be a fresh expression of Church - our men's group, our youth group, our family services, our 'informal worship' service. Each must be planned and delivered to the highest possible standard - or risk, in this media-savvy world being percieved as 'naff' or unprofessional.
My average working week can easily involve two or three services, a school assembly, an R.E. class at school, a staff meeting, four or five visits to the elderly or sick, one or two visits to new-comers to the church, a funeral, sometimes a wedding, usually two or three evening meetings, sermon preparation, music distribution, expenses forms and personal accounts, 'continual ministerial training', personal study, one or two trips to the college where I'm Chaplain, preparation of seminars for students at the college, production of publicity materials, planning for future events, two or three services, liaison with key people over future events, answering around 70 emails, letters, keeping abreast of national church issues etc etc etc...
The following story may amuse you. A few weeks ago I had to fill out a questionniare to determine which ministerial areas of competence I should focus on during the remainder of my training curacy. It was divided into sections on Personal Development, Conduct of Worship, Preaching, Mission and Evangelism, Pastoral and Education, Parish Organisation, Areas of Expertise, Links with the Wider Church and the catchall 'Additional'. Under these headings were listed a total of 117 areas of knowledge and competence that, one would assume, the typical (or ideal) minister should have! 117! My previous job descriptions only had around 10!
Not that I'm complaining. I love this ministry, and all the potential that goes with it to bring joy, challenge, hope. Just thought that some of you, dear readers, might be interested to get a glimpse of what else we preachers get up to when we are not in the pulpit!