Pastor’s 24 Report #pastors24

72 Pastors sent 1050 Updates about their day

72 Pastors sent 1050 Updates about their day

Wow. That was fun.

This project began as a simple question: what *do* pastors do on a random day of ministry? What if we could all tweet about our days and find out? What incredible diversity and little moments of ministry could we unearth?

Hence this project. While it has been criticized as self-congratulatory, self-justificating, or simply a waste of time better spent in prayer, the purpose was not to promote ourselves but to educate the public about what pastors do all day. For the Methodists it was a throwback to Wesleyan Holy Clubs who would chronicle their day in 15 minute increments. And it was fun.

Thanks to twitter/facebook grassroots promotions, the UMNS News Service, and even UMC.org, this project got onto people’s radars and into their routines yesterday. And #pastors24 became a way for pastors to connect and people on the outside to get a glimpse into a typical pastor’s day.

So, we’re done with that day. And since I’ve got enough academia still running through my blood, analyzing the data was pretty fun. Here’s a taste:

Background:

Data:

  • Using Twitter’s search function, we’ve included all the tweets from 12:01am EST to 11:59pm PST that used the hashtag #pastors24 and some misspellings (#pastor24, #pastor’s24)
  • From those parameters, there were 1050 tweets that were included in the data below.

Participants:

  • There were ~72 pastors and ministry people who participated. While there were 107 people who tweeted the hashtag, some were RT-ing or asking questions and didn’t participate. So this is every person with at least 3 tweets.

#pastors24 participants

  • We plugged the names of every tweet into Wordle and the above picture came out. Click to enlarge. The larger the name, the more tweets! Though it wasn’t a contest, @pastorbecca had the most tweets by far, followed closely by @WmHWatson @agarvin, @PastorEmJ, and @herevrush. (@umjeremy is not counted since many of my tweets were maintaining the project)

Topics:

  • There were 1050 updates sent by pastors participating in this project. This is a rough number. It does include some misspelled tweets (ie. #pastor24), but not every tweet appears in twitter’s search function.
  • At one point, we were a trending topic in Atlanta, meaning out of all the tweets coming from Atlanta, we were in the top 10. Wild.

Topics for #pastors24

  • We plugged in the full text of the tweets into Wordle, excluding the #pastors24 hashtag, and posted the picture above. Click it to enlarge. There’s a few things that jump out to me:
  1. Meetings are one of the top words pastors used. Whether it is meeting with a student, parent, committee, teacher, youth…we are meeting a lot.
  2. There’s a lot of “youth” mentions which is powerful. It may be a bit swayed since at least 2 of the participants are in children’s and youth ministry, but still neat.
  3. A lot of pastors do work on meetings, worship, bible studies the day-of. A large number of pastors were actively working on their evening programs the day it was to happen. This isn’t a criticism just something I noticed.
  4. Many pastors worked 12-13 hour days, even if the first/last hours were doing computer work.
  • Really the best way to get a glimpse of pastors’ days is to go to the #pastors24 stream and scroll. Click on a name and scroll through their tweets from yesterday. Amazing, huh?

Reflections:

I’m incredibly interested in feedback from the Pastors who participated. Here’s a few tweets that I starred:

Early reflection of #pastors24: inspired by prayer in stream; happy w/ breadth of what we call ministry; finding myself more intentional | @pastorbecca

Good night my fellow pastors. It’s been a blessing to journey with you today. #pastors24 | @lanecottonwinn

sorry for the spam all day. Amazing to see it all–esp when the day felt kinda calm. Praying for everyone who participated. #pastors24 | @PastorEmJ

And I suspect that these tweets may sound raw but they are reflective of ourselves:

108 miles traveled. 13 hrs away from home. 3 pastoral visits. numerous conversations. 1 committee meeting. that’s my wednesday #pastors24 | @mjmm

final question from me: does anyone besides me sometimes find this work grindingly oppressive and once-in-awhile no fun at all?#pastors24 | @barryweber

sometimes i wonder why i do this, but overall i feel blessed by the congregation i serve, my family, and friends in ministry. #pastors24 | @mjmm

Your Turn:

I would love to hear how others experienced this. Can you comment below and let us know your experience?

  1. Were you more intentional yesterday? In what way?
  2. Did you feel more connected to other pastors yesterday? Why? Any other pastors in particular?
  3. What trends or common updates did you see yesterday?

Discuss.

Thanks to the participants for taking the time to educate the world about our day.

Blessings for your journeys!

[Shameless plug: I'm a United Methodist pastor and this is an active blog about faith, technology, and group theory...so feel free to subscribe, follow on Facebook, or follow on Twitter and join the conversations!]

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Comments

  1. rev mommy says

    I was going to do more, but I lost my interwebs. Do it again. Please. This was fascinating and made me feel less like a lone ranger.

  2. says

    I don’t think I was more intentional in any way yesterday, except in tweeting. That was pretty much most of my day, and it’s pretty typically of my Monday-Thursdays. I didn’t provide little details, or even a blow by blow account, just noted things as I could. Most of my day is get started with one project, have someone come in the office, go back to project, phone rings, go back to project, realize I need to work on another project first, get side tracked with what I am supposed to be doing, pray for clarity, work on project, someone comes in my office…I don’t think I am alone in this. And by project I mean anything from working on sermon planning, to getting things ready for a meeting, working on a Bible study, working on a presentation, etc. But it’s all good. It all happens. And it’s all for God’s Kingdom.

  3. says

    I don’t think I was more intentional yesterday than any other day. A couple of things stood out. 1) Interruptions throw me for a loop. I had three of them yesterday that needed immediate attention. One was personal (kid-related) and two were related to our church construction. I probably need to find better ways to deal with these. 2) The lines between work & non-work get blurry in some ways. For instance, I’m in a community theater play, not only because I like to do it, but because it puts me out in the community with some different persons than I might normally be with. While I don’t really consider it “work” it’s definitely meets the “engaged in community” part of my job description. I’m sure other clergy struggle with these issues as well.

  4. says

    This was fun. I was more intentional about tweeting what I was doing, but yesterday did not reflect a typical day either. I actually had more free time than I normally do, so that was odd. I enjoyed reading other pastor’s tweets too because it was uplifting to see the body of Christ at work. Thank you!

  5. says

    oops, I’m totally verbose. surprise.

    I have a blog post stewing about my reflections and I’ll link to this and your initial post so you can read it. Then we’ll swap readers back and forth. Then we’ll get *those* posts on umc.org. Then the whole of the online Methodist connection will be ours to control Mwahahaha! No, seriously, then people will be talking about what ministry is and the exciting things pastors and ministers of all types do, and how so much of it is transformative (and quite a bit of it is silly and administrative too). And we can perhaps offer our own mini commentary on what effective ministry is and where individuals are meeting the holy in their vocations and in their everyday lives.

    Oh, and you’re awesome. I’m so happy to be your colleague, and through this project to meet some other awesome colleagues too.

    Becca

  6. says

    Jeremy – you are right about my last couple tweets “sounding raw” but intending to be reflective; I was debating hitting “send” on both of them, especially the “sometimes i wonder why…” By the end of the day I was tried, holding on to some anxiety, and just wanting to express that sense that while I love this calling it isn’t always fun and sometimes doesn’t feel all that productive, but maybe I was listening to that inner drama queen a little too much.

    I was a little more intentional about tracking the course of my day, and to a degree I think that kept me a little more accountable, which was good. Typically I don’t track mileage, although I’ve been increasingly mindful of the amount of time I’ve been spending in the car with this new appointment, so yesterday’s exercise gave me a reason to attach a number to that aspect of the work.

    I felt a little more “connected” because of this – mostly in the sense that “Okay, I’m not completely crazy, others are trying to figure out this ministry time, family time, personal time, thing, too.” I did start following @pastorbecca, partly because she was putting a lot of good stuff up, partly because she reposted a friend’s sermon on her blog, which makes her pretty awesome in my mind.

    Thanks again, for putting this thing together.

  7. says

    I debated a bit on whether to participate since I’m not a pastor currently but a pastoral counselor. I do quite a bit of work (mostly unpaid) for the church I’m appointed to, the church where I have my 2nd counseling office (where I was yesterday) and other churches and faith-based non-profit organizations. I (obviously) ultimately came down on the “yes” of doing it, because some aspects of my work are very similar to that of pastors, and other aspects are different enough that I believed I could represent some variety in ministerial work.

    The work of a pastoral counselor/deacon can be lonely sometimes. Heck, most pastors I know feel lonely from time to time, but when I gather with clergy in my conference, I sometimes feel lonely even among the pastors who know from loneliness, because sometimes I erroneously think my work is so different from that of pastors. Participating yesterday, reading so many pastors sharing the same thoughts and feelings about their job as I do, helped me feel much more connected to my colleagues in ministry.

    I don’t know if I would say I was more intentional about my work, because most of my work is either scheduled appointments or notes/emails/phone calls/web work that I have on a kind of ongoing to-do list that I don’t feel I particularly worked harder at yesterday. But, the accountability of others reading my tweets may have helped me actually make it to the gym yesterday. I tweeted on my way out of the office that my last client had cancelled and I was going to use the time to make an extra, unplanned trip to the gym. I went home to change into workout clothes, and was VERY tempted just to stay home till I had to leave to meet with my supervisor, but because I had tweeted it, I went to the gym. Maybe I would have anyway–who knows. But the accountability helped me make the right decision :)

    I feel like this exercise helped me in other ways that I can’t quite articulate yet. I’d love to do this on a semi-regular basis. Maybe 2 or 3 times a year. Would be very interesting to get snapshots of pastors lives in other seasons… lent, easter, ordinary time, advent…

    Also thanks for putting together all the data Jeremy. I am a Myers-Briggs J and just love seeing all of that data!

  8. says

    I tweeted with the church tweet yesterday( Green Lake UMC), and actually found this exercise a bit like the insurance tracking device I wear constantly. Yes, it keeps me accountable, and often focused, however, it also took much time that may have been better utilized elsewhere. I can identify with what some have called the clergy loneliness factor and think that even though I appreciate all this technology and social networking that I miss out on so much because I’ve become disengaged from more direct forms of communication and personal contact. This is not a clergy thing, it is a cultural problem, when over 1/2 the couples are now meeting online, this is a lonely world. I think the encouragement of institutions, including church, to use more and more technological distancing techniques, is like giving an alcoholic a bottle of gin. I use the computer to write and research for worship, I use facebook to connect with congregation members, I use e-mail to conduct business……It was fun, but at the end, I felt like I was drawn into something I’m trying to move away from. I would prefer to be drawn into face-to-face contact, fullness relationship with others as I grow in relationship with God.

  9. PastorEmj says

    I have to say, when I read your first post I was excited. Less to prove something to someone, than to share in what ministry means, to give an example of what we do, and as a chance to see what I do throughout the day. I’ve been told I need more balance and work too much–but I don’t feel like I’m doing any more or less than others. It was enlightening to see that on a day I felt was “empty” (there was litterally NOTHING written on my calendar) that I did so much. It both helped me look at all the people I’ve touched and relish today as a planned day off. I felt much less guilty about spending 5 hours cleaning my own house!

    With all that said, I read some of the posts where others thought the idea was silly or self-serving. One written by a pastor I love and respect. I have to be honest, I thought about stopping. But, I to me it wasn’t about proving myself to others. It was about finding out new things for me. I was amazed how many people commented about things. I was amazed at how many new interesting people I met. I was amazed at how much ministry was happening. So, yes, it was self-serving. But clearly, I’m not self-serving enough. In the end, I think my day of self-servingness will reap benefits on how I minister, how I care for myself, and how I care for others.

    Blessings to all. Praying that you are strengthened and that you continue to spread the light and love of Christ to all the world. With God’s help, I still believe we can change the world–one prayer or maybe tweet at a time!

    Emily

  10. Daniel F. says

    While I didnt participate directly (not one in ministry), I did check in and watch the feed through out the day. Coming from multiple clergy-filled households I felt i had a pretty good idea of the daily life. That being said, watching the feed was a solid reminder of not just the length of the day for ministerial types, but the potentially brutal personal toll.

    Its unfortunate there was criticism. But I suppose some folks are simply wrong sometimes. :) I appreciate the view into the life of those in direct ministry and hope yall host this again.

    Additionally, very glad to see a good handful of North Georgia UM folk involved! Thank you, Jeremy!

  11. says

    Very cool project man! Wish I had been aware. woulda loved to participate. Although Presbyterian, loved the concept. Maybe do it once a month on the 24th??

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