Every seven days, Sunday morning has a pesky habit of rolling around again. In fact, I write this on a Sunday morning having just completed my normal rhythm of waking up earlier than usual, putting on my preaching clothes, grabbing a breakfast sandwich on my way into the church building, reviewing my sermon notes, cutting and pasting them into my preaching Bible, and then highlighting the important points in them.
You may not be a preaching pastor, but chances are if you are reading this, you have Sunday morning responsibilities that are part of your norm every single week.
Fight to Disengage “Autopilot”
None of this is a bad thing, but often the repetition of our rhythms cause us to disconnect from the meaning behind them by going into “autopilot”. Just like high church orthodoxy and liturgy, the very nature of repetition can leave us spiritually disconnected from the amazing reality of what we are doing on Sunday mornings as we gather to worship Jesus with fellow saints.
So, what to do? Do we keep changing our systems, expectations, and processes just to stay on our toes? Well, this is generally more of a corporate tactic to get the most out of employees. If no one is ever comfortable, and change is constant, you continually have to adapt to get the best out of yourself and others. Sadly, as effective as a strategy like this might be (and I have worked at a church where this was the practice), it leads to burn out, disillusionment, and ultimately resentment because at its core it’s not loving to your staff.
Might there be a better way to remain focused and engaged with the true reality of what we are doing when we serve the church at Sunday services?
Check Your Rhythms
Rhythms can be life-giving or life-taking. Right now, our lives are filled with a myriad of rhythms that are a mix of both. Planning and keeping time to enjoy your spouse or children, I would imagine, is life-giving. Picking up your mobile phone and checking social media first thing in the morning after you wake up is likely more life-taking.
The challenge with our Sunday morning routines is when they become life-taking rather than life-giving.
Remember the “Why” of Sunday Morning
Some perspective is helpful for us in this. When we are able to zoom out and see the purpose of our gatherings and the role we play in them, it can help reset our routines and the monotony that has crept in.
Find some time to spend with your team, preferably not on a Sunday morning, and ask questions about what motivates their work and what they think the purpose of holding Sunday services is. If the responses are all practical and measurable, you’ll need to help reset what success looks like. But if the responses are focused more on the goodness of Jesus, celebrating the Gospel, serving people, and showing love, your only real task then is to ask and continue to reinforce this question:
How can I keep the real reason we gather on Sunday morning at the forefront of my mind (and the minds of staff and volunteers) in my (and their) routine?
Maybe it looks like writing yourself notes, paying special attention to prayer, being an encourager and reminding people of why we do what we do, or continuing to affirm the profound privilege we have to celebrate the Lord Jesus and to serve him faithfully. Whatever it is for you, fight to keep your Sunday morning routine as a life-giving reminder of the supreme privilege it is that we get to serve King Jesus and his people.>
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. – Psalm 16:11