By Ida Smith-Williams
"Thank God It's Friday!" is a common anthem sung by people in the workforce and students in schools everywhere, celebrating the last day of the work or school week before the weekend. Do clergy sing this tune as well?
Most pastors take a day off each week. Pastors in a national random sample of congregations were asked "Do you regularly take a day off each week?" (the U.S. Congregational Life Survey leader survey). Eight in ten said yes. Among mainline Protestant pastors, nearly nine out of ten (87%) take a day off each week. Three-quarters of Catholic priests take a day off each week, as do seven out of ten conservative Protestant pastors.
What day do pastors prefer for a day of rest? While not all pastors take a day off each week, of those pastors that do, 44% report that Friday is their day off. Another 33% of pastors take Monday off.
Preferences for day off vary by faith group. While half of clergy in mainline Protestant congregations (52%) chose Friday as their day off, the largest number of leaders in Catholic parishes (43%) and conservative Protestant congregations (39%) chose Monday. Friday was the choice of 36% of conservative Protestant leaders. Catholic priests' second choice was split evenly between Thursdays and Fridays (20% for each). With many Catholic parishes holding mass on Saturday, it is not surprising that Saturday was not a common day off for Catholic leaders.
Does size of congregation matter? Eight in ten leaders in small, mid-size, and large congregations took a day off weekly. Fridays were the most popular day off in each size group. Pastors in small congregations were more likely to choose Saturdays (22%) than those in larger congregations (6% for mid-size and 10% for large congregations).
While Mondays off sound like a good idea to me (some Mondays are awful to face), I'm not sure I'd want to give up my Saturdays and Sundays! Many of us work 40-hour workweeks (five days a week). Yet most pastors have a six-day week. (For some, it's more!) I'm glad to see the majority of clergy regularly taking at least one day off each week.