On Sunday, I preached two sermons in a small Baptist church in Orillia, Ontario. In all honesty, they were probably B- (or worst case, C+) sermons: faithful, reasonably coherent, but not brilliant. The evening message especially so. There were some places where the message in the evening service could definitely have benefitted from some additional clarity and precision. (I was preaching from Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1, and I don’t think enough of my thought process made it into my message as would have been beneficial.)
Because of my various responsibilities—full time employment, family, writing and so on—even with good time management, I often am working up to what’s closer to the last minute than I’m comfortable doing. To some degree, this is my own fault. But it’s also one of the difficulties of itinerant ministry. Sermon prep has to fit around the rest of life, in a different way than I suspect it would even for the bi-vocational pastor (bi-vocational friends, feel free to correct me on this point). This doesn’t mean cutting corners, but it does mean the 25-40 hours of prep some folks put in isn’t an option.
At best, it’s more like 15. And when I have two messages to prepare, that same amount of time has to be used for both.
Which is a bit nutty, I know. Not impossible, but definitely challenging.
This is not me griping, and I hope it doesn’t sound that way. I am very thankful for the ministry opportunities available to me, and for the patience of congregations like this one who seem to enjoy having me there (I’m back there this weekend, which will be my third in a row and sixth time overall). But one of the things I’m increasingly finding myself challenged by is how to manage my time more effectively,1 especially with school coming up. What I know this means for me is there are going to have to be more opportunities I say no to, and probably even more of my current responsibilities I’m going to have to reevaluate.
But am I alone in feeling crunched like this?
Bivocational preachers, how do you manage your time? Fellow itinerant preachers, how do you navigate these time management issues?