Remember when Sunday was a day of rest?
I was sitting in church yesterday, thinking about this, when the time for announcements came, and coincidentally, a nice little talk about how it was everyone’s responsibility to serve on Sunday mornings, and in your bulletin’s a list of things you can do. I guess maybe the Hebrew word for rest really means serve. (After all, it’s called a worship service, isn’t it?)
Okay, I am being facetious, and a little bit obnoxious. I know about all of the things that need to be done on a Sunday morning, especially when you rent space in a middle school. It’s like washing dishes. No one really likes to do it, but it’s got to be done.
But, really what has to be done? Do we need a full band, and bookstore, and a gazillion sunday school classes? Take setting up chairs, for instance. Sure, we need chairs (although I understand the Russian Orthodox – the ones in Russia – stand for 2-3 hours every Sunday). What if we made a sign that says “please take as many chairs as you need, and put them away when you’re done?”
The problem, like most things, is not that a little service on Sundays is a bad thing. The problem is, how much is enough, and how much is too much? The problem is the escalation of things that need doing and the demands on our Sundays, that destroy a day of rest, and a day of worship.
We need to be doing a constant cost-benefit analysis, or else the escalation takes over, and soon we are not just serving, we are down-right working on Sundays. And, I should mention, most pastors take Monday off to compensate for their work on Sundays. I’ve spent years working my buns off for various churches, including Sundays, Saturdays, evenings, etc. Much of it I’ve enjoyed – it’s fellowship, it’s fulfilling, and so on. But, after a while, sometimes it just turns into work.
One thing I’ve learned from the escalation cycles in my own life – other people often don’t understand when you do a cost-benefit analysis, and see that it’s time to retrench.