God and Paperwork

Have you ever found things bogging you down?

Sometimes, as a pastor of a small church, I find myself amazed by how much of my job is paperwork. Especially since most of it is created by myself. ACK! There’s the bulletin, my sermon outline (which I hate doing, because then I feel tied down to it), contracts (we also are landlords), meeting agenda, worker checklists, rules, regs, letters to tenants, letters to congregation members, newsletters, applications/registrations for all the junk I need to be at, grants, fundings, thankyous, checklists, calendars for myself, the congregation and the building use etc. Sometimes I think the only thing I don’t write down on a regular basis are my extemporaneous prayers.


In an age of holding people accountable, and in a denomination where if its not written down it isn’t real (otherwise known as Presbyterian), I find that needing to do millions of paperworks exasperating, and “not-the-ministry-I-want-to-be-doing.”

So I find myself asking two questions: Can we do with less with paperwork, or even bureacracy in general…(note how many of the “What my mom thinks I do” memes actually end in paperwork, the ministry one I saw was def. like that)Image

What would service look if we did less bureacracy?

How about session/board meetings? (Not to mention Presbytery/Judicatory)

How about the entire “Call” Process?

How can we hold onto responsibility but lose some paperwork? How can we move with the Spirit and say Yes even as we follow protocol? What would this church look like??

I guess it would be faster, but it would also have to be more flexible. A greater trust would have to be had in staff (many of my paperworks are follow ups), out loud discussion would be even more greatly depended on (no more surveys), Leadership would have to be tighter and communication of goals, objectives and the order of things would have to be clearer and more precise (i.e. no agendas for meetings).

Alternatively (and knowing that God promises to make all things new, including paperwork) How does God work through our processes?
Had to say a quick prayer about this question…how does God work through paperwork? It slows us down, makes us double check things, it helps us to ponder and gives us an excuse to work through the stuff in our office (“our” being the staff of the church) at our own pace….It also allows for clearer accountability and gives us a security blanket to try new things (a new form of worship goes much easier if its on paper)….

What do you think? I’m really curious to know how we can both limit our paperwork, and yet use our paperwork as a form of ministry.

Author: katyandtheword

Pastor Katy has enjoyed ministry at New Covenant since 2010, where the church has solidified its community focus. Prior to that she studied both Theology and Christian Formation at Princeton Theological Seminary. She also served as an Assistant Chaplain at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital and as the Christian Educational Coordinator at Bethany Presbyterian at Bloomfield, NJ. She is an writer and is published in Enfleshed, Sermonsuite, Presbyterian's today and Outlook. She writes prayers, liturgy, poems and public theology and is pursuing her doctorate in ministry in Creative Write and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. She enjoys working within and connecting to the community, is known to laugh a lot during service, and tells as many stories as possible. Pastor Katy loves reading Science Fiction and Fantasy, theater, arts and crafts, music, playing with children and sunshine, and continues to try to be as (w)holistically Christian as possible. "Publisher after publisher turned down A Wrinkle in Time," L'Engle wrote, "because it deals overtly with the problem of evil, and it was too difficult for children, and was it a children's or an adult's book, anyhow?" The next year it won the prestigious John Newbery Medal. Tolkien states in the foreword to The Lord of the Rings that he disliked allegories and that the story was not one.[66] Instead he preferred what he termed "applicability", the freedom of the reader to interpret the work in the light of his or her own life and times.

3 thoughts on “God and Paperwork”

  1. I have no idea how to fix this. My main complaint is all the meetings. And then there’s the folks who lost the first agenda and minutes I sent out and request the whole deal-i-o again. Thanks for printing the pros of paperwork. It helps.

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