‘A week in the life of a pioneer’ is about as tricky to pin down as a week in the life of a full-time parent. Unpredictable and (at times) exciting. Full-on and demanding but (at times) isolating. There are other similarities too – the pioneer, like the parent, may know that their work is valuable and that sometimes just ‘being there’ is enough. However, trying to communicate what exactly the role is can be hard, and people can undervalue or overlook work which doesn’t fit into the boxes that we tend to use to define who someone is by what they do [i].
Of course, another obvious parallel is that for each pioneer (as for each parent) a ‘week in the life’ will be unique to them, their situation and the people they are with. With this in mind, I approached Tim Watson – full-time Pioneer Minister in Gosport in Portsmouth Diocese, also known as @BeatLiturgist, poet, artist and performer – to get a feel for his ‘week in the life’. Perhaps within his week there are underlying resonances with your own, perhaps his week will illuminate something for you or make you look at your own week in a different way… Or maybe not. Either way – none of us are averse to a little snoop through someone else’s diary, so let’s look at Tim’s week and see what (one example of) a pioneer gets up to.
Tim’s week is – as you would expect – a week of contrasts. From catering and hospitality to admin, vision planning to weddings, school assemblies to emerging Fresh Expressions of worship – all of these find a slot on Tim’s weekly wall planner. In addition, there’s no such thing as a ‘set’ week – and so what follows is a kind of best-case, amalgamated version of a typical week…
Day off! A good way to avoid that Monday feeling, and a good moment to switch off after a busy weekend of “church-less vicaring”. (See this article for Tim’s description of this term.)
The week’s work begins with morning prayer and a coffee/catch-up with colleagues, before Tim heads over to a local Anglican church, St. Faith’s, to unload provisions for that evening’s Trash Café – a ‘Real Junk Food Project’ café serving intercepted ‘waste’ food. A monthly Deanery chapter or pioneer vicar catch-up follows, followed by some break time (normally chilling with a book) and then onto a shift at the Trash Café until the evening. A bi-monthly PCC rounds the day off.
The day kicks off with a meeting with the church wardens and team, followed by time for emails, planning, preparation and working on funding bids. Emerging plans at the moment include a toddler group and children’s clothing swap, so there is much afoot. ‘Chill and Chat’ – a time for parents, children and teachers to socialise – is from 5-6.30pm, before Tim goes along to support and help lead a local emerging FX, ‘Open Church’.
Tim takes his daughters to school on Thursday, remaining for the school’s collective worship before – three times a month – leading a traditional Holy Communion service at a local church. (On the non-Communion week, Tim attends Diocesan Pioneer Fellowship – where pioneers from across the diocese visit each other’s contexts, pray together and theologically reflect.) Lunch at a local café then provides a chance for chatting with staff and customers, before an afternoon of preparation around school pick-up. Finally, School Governors meetings often close Thursday for Tim.
After dropping his girls at school, Tim sets aside much of Friday morning for reading, writing or research, followed by further time for paperwork and emails. Tim notes that Friday afternoons also make a good moment for catching up with folk (over coffee, naturally), vision planning and reflection.
Not so structured, Saturdays consist of occasional events, weddings, local festivals, opportunities to build links with the local art scene… Preparation for Sunday morning also needs to be fitted in, around a trip to see Gosport Borough Football Club when possible.
‘Sunday Script’, in a local café, is where Tim spends Sunday morning. The concept is basically that he sits in the café, reads the Bible, and anyone is welcome to join him. The afternoon is family time – a trip to the beach, park or town maybe – before onto GAP, a pioneer learning community within the Diocese. Tim is working currently to launch a Sunday evening Missional Community meal.
And then its Monday again! Of course, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to have a pioneering week. Tim’s week is not intended to be used as a comparison or measuring tool – and as Tim notes, as a full-time stipendiary ordained minister his week may well look different from part-time or lay pioneers, or ordained pioneers who have another aspect to their role. Tim’s pioneering work is also evolving – so what his typical week looks like now may be quite different in 6 months or so. What I find heartening within his week however, is the number of points for support and development he can access – alongside the regular time set aside for ‘time out’, reflection and personal life.
We love to hear your stories as pioneers and FX practitioners. If you’d like to share your ‘week in the life’, why not head to our new FX App. It’s a place where we give space for the movement to tell their story and its the place where you can tell yours.
[i] Of course, the same could be said for many forms of ministry, and indeed many jobs and ways of life – but bear with me, you get the point…