And on the seventh day…

23 May

I have been thinking about rest and the language used around it. In part it comes from some folks in full time ministry having received complaints that those who make up the body of the church do things on their day off, so why shouldn’t full time ministers.

Now in CPD – the book of rules – it gives that:

A minimum break of 24 hours each week, without structured work and if possible
away from the manse.
A period of up to an hour’s break each day for recreation and exercise.

Now in reflecting on this I tend to use the term rest day rather than day off, and have been generally quite good at taking a rest day, however what does it mean to have a rest day. I find that it is a day to recharge, a day to re-engage with family, and a day to sit back and become me again. Without my rest day I become ratty, and often over tired, also I tend to find that I am less able to get things done.

Genesis 2

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. 2And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. 3So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

Exodus 20:8 

Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy.

Deuteronomy 5:12

Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you.

Looking at these 3 quotes also shows that God intend us to rest. In this I see that rest is good. But in the nature of ministry, it is not a 9 to 5 job, and you can’t really have a day off from being a minister, but you can have a day of rest – and have a very good role model to follow.



Posted by on May 23, 2012 in Ministry


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2 responses to “And on the seventh day…

  1. BlackXanthus

    May 23, 2012 at 22:48

    I have also heard an argument that perhaps Ministers should have more than one day off. The problem with Ministry is that it is, by nature, a vocation, and it is, by an large (even, I guess for Methodists) based very much on ministry designed 100 years ago, when the pace of life was much, much slower. When you could stroll down to morning prayer at your single church, spend a few moments talking to people on the way there, ministering to them, and doing a spot of visiting on the way back. Perhaps spend the afternoon nose-deep in a theological book contemplating the deep thoughts of theology in preparation for your sermon on Sunday (which you need only preach in one Church, and therefore need not worry how such-and-such a line will play in two different congregations). You might have to take a few funerals, but being as they didn’t require a eulogy, or because you were their minister, you knew them and therefore didn’t need to wait on family and friends to tell you about them, writing their eulogy was a matter of an hour or two.

    While the day of rest is ESSENTIAL, it is based on the idea that there will also be times of rest and reflection during the week, which will ensure charged batteries to face the vocation the entire period. This may not be the case. With paperwork for more than one Church, rotas that need doing, a multitude of services that need organising, as well as outreach, discipleship courses (which are not just the simple “bible-study” any more), as well as what everyone else expects of a minister (like visiting, pastoral support, and so on), the times of rest and relaxation to learn a bit of Hebrew, Syriac, or understand the true nature of the Trinity has really gone by the by.

    It seems, therefore, that there could be an argument for “adding up” all these lost periods into a single day, and giving the minister two days off a week. There is an attempt to do something along these lines in the Clergy Terms of Service for the Church In Wales, where ministers are meant to have a “Study Day”, though that term is never a) explained (as to what it actually means), and it is generally ignored and often proves to be impossible because unless the parish knows that you are not available, you are considered to be available for diary appointments.

    Of course, I write this now *instead* of writing the work I should be doing for tomorrow. At 11pm at night… because it’s been one of those days….


    • James PB

      May 23, 2012 at 23:26

      I would have to agree, with the spreading of ministers more thinly this is becoming a greater issues if the model does not change. At least in the Methodist ecclesiology (in theory at least) we have the Priesthood of all Believers, and that many of the roles here are taken by the Stewards and others appointed by the church to them. However the question is ever present are time to do things and how much time people who have secular jobs, families and other commitments can spend catching up on some of these things.

      I do think we are a going to see a move towards greater lay leadership, and also as has happened in some Methodist circuits already the appointment of lay employees to do some tasks that previously would have been done by minister or volunteers (such as finance and admin). Where this has happened it has generally improved things, as it has freed up the minister to get on with their calling, while also allowing others to do work competently.


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