A philosophical tug-of-war is occurring in the work world. To what degree should people work from home, and how much time should they spend in the office?
Some CEOs are mandating a permanent return to the office on all workdays. Others allow their workers to be remote, even working in other states. Many are splitting the difference with a hybrid approach.
Studies are beginning to show the value of working in an office setting with your colleagues. The bonds between companies and workers are fragile and only made weaker by too much remote work. People say they want remote work because it satisfies short-term desires, only to find out later they suffer because of it.
What about the church?
Long gone are the days of required office hours from 9 to 5 on Mondays through Fridays. Good riddance. Pastors don’t need to sit at desks for hours each day. But the pendulum should not swing too far the other way. For example, it would be unwise if every church staff person worked from home and rarely came into the office.
I’m not advocating for rigid office hours, but having a couple of office days is important. Why? Five reasons stand out.
- Collaboration: God did not design each member of the body to work in isolation. Church teams work best together and not in silos. Communication tools like Slack can help fill in the gaps, but there is something to the ability to swing by someone’s desk and ask a question.
- Mentoring: Physical presence is crucial for relationships to be healthy. Experienced and knowledgeable pastors can adapt to remote work because of the years spent doing onsite ministry. Younger and newer pastors need time in person with mentors to develop and mature. So much of ministry is learned by observing and repeating older pastors’ good habits and strong disciplines.
- Creativity: You can listen to each instrument of a symphony independently, but the expression and emotion of the song are absent unless you hear everyone playing together. There is a creative energy that is lost through a screen.
- Productivity: Some work is suited for a home environment, like writing sermons. A lot of church work, however, requires interaction with people or the church campus, such as first impressions, worship ministry technology, and child safety procedures in the classroom. Without time on site, the prep work would be rushed on Sundays.
- Camaraderie: Jokes and laughter are much better in person than through a screen. My team enjoys harmless office pranks that would otherwise be impossible with remote work.
What is an example of a schedule that works? I will share my typical week. I work six days a week and am onsite three and a half days a week. Part of the onsite time, however, may include breakfast and lunches with church members, community leaders, and other pastors.
- Monday: Writing sermons from home all day.
- Tuesday: Meetings onsite at the church. Available for lunches with members.
- Wednesday: Working from home in the morning and at the church after lunch.
- Thursday: Office work in the morning and afternoon, available for lunches with members.
- Friday: Working from home, usually writing.
- Saturday: Sabbath and family day.
- Sunday: Onsite morning to evening and available for lunches and dinners with members.
I’m not advocating for rigid office hours, but having a couple of office days is essential. For my church team, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are when almost everyone is onsite.
Posted on March 22, 2023
As President of Church Answers, Sam Rainer wears many hats. From podcast co-host to full-time Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Church, Sam’s heart for ministry and revitalization are evident in all he does.
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