Simplify Your Schedule

April 6, 2023

When I arrived at my parish, the expectation was that the pastor does everything, from unlocking the front doors on Sunday mornings to changing the toilet paper in the men’s room (I’m not sure who took care of the ladies’ room). Furthermore, my presence was absolutely expected and, in fact, demanded absolutely everything that happened here. The thought was if Father didn’t come to the event, then it wasn’t an authentic gathering in some way.

If the pastor is a one-man show, it ensures the parish will not grow beyond his availability, capabilities, and talents. The pastor is like a lid, also inhibiting growth in discipleship among the parishioners. When we priests don’t allow and empower parishioners to serve the church, represent the church, be the church, we prevent them from taking an important step in discipleship.

I very deliberately don’t do a lot of things other pastors do, and sometimes I am criticized for it. My simple reason is that the parishioners should be growing in their faith by serving one another. Ephesians 4:12 teaches God gives pastors the responsibility to “equip the holy ones for the work of ministry.”  That means I don’t greet people at the front door before Mass, I don’t answer visitors’ questions in the Lobby, and unless requested, I don’t visit the sick… ‘the holy ones’ do.

My staff can attest to the fact that I have plenty of weaknesses when it comes to running a parish. In more recent years, I have worked hard to stay in the zone of my strengths and delegate weaknesses. There are many things I am responsible for but not good at. I am responsible for the finances of our parish, but I am not good with numbers. So I trust them to our business manager Brandon and our very wise Financial Council.

Whenever possible, I stick to what I can do, which I alone can do, which is celebrating the Sacraments, preaching at weekend Masses, leading our stewardship efforts, leading our parish staff, raising up member ministers, and managing our relationship with the Archdiocese. These aren’t the only things I do, but they are the most essential.

What about everything else that happens at a parish? The list of other parish functions and programs is lengthy: faith formation, music ministry, hospitality, facilities management, communications, and various forms of pastoral care. But what is true about each of these is that they each can be done by someone other than the pastor.

There are a few key strategies that I’ve found which make it easier for pastors, associates, and lay staff to delegate non-essential responsibilities.

We’ve Moved!
Head to the brand new Rebuilt Parish Blog to hear three strategies for simplifying your schedule: https://www.rebuiltparish.com/blog/simplify-your-schedule

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  1. Hi Pastor,

    I want to commend you for being honest about the tasks you are willing to undertake. Although I am not a religious leader, I attend church regularly. From my observations, I have noticed that new visitors tend to observe how the pastor interacts with the congregation. Sometimes, pastors leave it to the congregation to welcome newcomers, which can lead to visitors feeling ignored and not returning…well all the time where I am from. Sometimes, pastors believe it’s better for their congregation members to visit each other, which they refer to as ‘the holy ones’. As a result of this holy love, the members do visit each other. However, they also express sadness when they feel disappointed that their priest hasn’t contacted or visited them. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to the pastor forgetting to mention those who are ill or bereaved during prayers or notices because they aren’t being visited. Don’t worry, though; the congregation notices this and becomes a source of internal shame. Volunteers in congregations are typically individuals who hold full-time jobs and are already exhausted. They perform their duties out of love for the Church and as a holy sacrifice to God. It can be disappointing to see priests pull back on their responsibilities, while volunteers often work full-time and take on extensive duties for the Church. I have personally witnessed the selfless contributions of these volunteers, who sacrifice their own well-being. Unfortunately, they are often subject to Out of Office Replies and may not receive responses to emails or phone calls outside of regular business hours. This can lead to disillusionment among volunteers in the Church. In the quest to find new and innovative strategies to “make it easier for pastors, associates, and lay staff to delegate non-essential responsibilities” Remember to show your gratitude and support for the hardworking volunteers of your church who tirelessly dedicate their time and efforts. It is these same volunteers who remain committed to the church even after the Priest or Pastor has moved on to another congregation. Don’t forget to keep them in your thoughts and prayers, and offer your help whenever possible. That’s my rant for today. amen

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