How I Do Ministry: Chris

I’ve always been curious of how other pastors and church leaders work. So I shamelessly ripped of’s How I Work series and began to ask other church leaders questions about their work. 

Chris Waks

Location: Galveston, TX
Your Ministry: Associate Pastor, Moody Methodist Church
One word that describes how you work: Missional
Current mobile device: iPhone 6 with a super broken screen
Current computer/laptop: MacBook Pro

Connect with Chris:

Describe a recent work day:
Monday Morning:
I come in about 8:30 to get oriented and prepared for the week. The first thing I try to do is clean my desk, since it gets so messy during the week.

9:00am I have a meeting to debrief Sunday’s service with our worship leader, a fellow pastor, and the man running sound/lights in the back. During our time together, we try to identify what things worked in the service and what didn’t work.

9:45am swing by the Hospital to visit a congregant who is having surgery. We chat for a bit while they wait and I pray with them on my way out.

11:30 Meals on Wheels works out of our church’s kitchen. Every Monday a staff person takes a turn to deliver. Today, a co-worker and I go deliver meals around town.

1:00-5:00pm Afternoons are pretty quiet. I do my best to protect Monday to write sermons. This Sunday I don’t have to preach, so I spend the afternoon reading and writing to get prepared for our Lenten sermon series.

Gadgets/apps/tools that you cannot live without:
MacBook. V60

What’s your workspace set up like?
I’ve got a small office at the church. I’ve got a 6-foot desk that is really spacious. When I write sermons, I’ll spread the books/notes that I’m using on my desk around my laptop. I’m also looking to get either a standing desk add-on or replace my desk with an adjustable height desk, so I can switch between standing and sitting. I’m a really visual person. Since, I don’t have a whiteboard, I’ve started putting up lot of post-it notes on the wall around my desk. The post-its right now are mostly ideas for sermon series and a some other ideas I want to explore in the near future. I also can’t stay in my office for too long. The extrovert in me has to get up and talk to people every so often. So, I’ll often wander into my co-worker’s offices and bother them.

Best short-cut; life hack you use:
Inbox Zero. A friend of mine showed this to me and it changed my life. They describe it as “a rigorous approach to email management aimed at keeping the inbox empty—or almost empty—at all times. There are much better explanations online, than I could give you.

For people who preach regularly. I’ve become an apologist for writing your sermons on Monday. I do everything in my power, to protect that time. And typically, the only exception I make is for pastoral care work, like visiting congregants, home visits, and calls. Starting early in the week helps me, not only feel more prepared come Sunday, but once I finish I can put the sermon away for a few days and come back to it with fresh eyes.

How do you keep track of what you have to do:
For meetings and events happening around the church and community, I keep a physical calendar. I’ve found I remember meetings better when I use a physical calendar over iCal.
For my own to-do list I keep a small moleskin notebook with me. In this I write just about everything I have to do, no matter how redundant it is. Typically, this helps me keep track of what I need to do. When things get really busy for me, I will also start each week by “scoring” all of my tasks and then going from highest to lowest score. What I typically do is give each to-do list item a score based on 1) deadline 2) importance 3) anxiety/dread inducing. The third category is an odd one, but I’ve discovered that I can put off things that give me anxiety/dread. As a way of combating that, I score those items higher so I do them first.
Lots of post-its.

What’s one of the least favorite aspects of what you have to do:
Event planning. I’m grateful that within our congregation we have many people with the gifts and passion for planning events. I, however, am not one of them.

Passion/Side project of yours?
Sadly, I haven’t had much time for side projects since moving to Texas and starting at Moody. Most of my time, in this phase of life, has been finishing up a few classes I needed for ordination and going through that process. Now, that I’m, hopefully, towards the end of that tunnel I’m going to start dreaming about a side project. But, I have a heart for those who are on the margins of society, because there we discover God. Moreover, that’s where the Church’s work and mission should be.

I also frequent a lot of coffee shops around Houston and I love baseball.

What gives you joy about your work:
Watching people discover that they don’t just go to church, but that they are the church.

Currently reading/ or anything you’d recommend one to read:
I’ve been recommending Tattoos on the Heart by Greg Boyle to everyone I meet.

I’m currently reading We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates



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