A plan for a possible renovation to our church building includes a room labeled “Pastor’s Shop.” It is not a misprint. The designer is well aware of what happens in such a space, and chose the word for a reason.
Enough has been written about whether a pastor’s work space ought to be called an office or a study. While I gravitate towards the idea of pastor as theologian, I also think that the word, study, can give the impression of a space where (to paraphrase a sit-com character) a day is spent thinking about stuff and writing some of it down. I also understand that the word, office, can imply a professional aspiration some believe has been harmful to the pastorate. However, offices are also places where people meet and confer and where information is shared. All of these things happen in a pastor’s office.
In contrast to either office or study, the word shop has a decidedly blue collar feel. That might explain why I noticed the label, given that I have previously confessed to being jealous of my sons who needed hard hats and safety boots for their summer jobs (Greener Grass). While shop could imply a retail outlet, the person who used the label wanted to suggest that the shop is a place where work is done. In my imagination, shops are places where people engage in a craft, whether that is cabinet making or car repair. A person involved in a craft or a trade draws on specific knowledge and experience. While there is room for creativity, recognized standards must be met in order to make something of lasting value. I like to think that pastors do something like that – though I freely recognize that this might seem like a stretch to anyone with calloused or grease stained hands.
Pastor’s shop, the more I think about it, the more I like it.