Everything was perfect. All the copies were made and labeled to hand out to appropriate people. All volunteers had been contacted with reminder emails and attendance confirmed. All Powerpoints were uploaded, all lessons printed, all song motions learned… everything was in its place. I even came to work early so I could pray and start my peaceful Sunday with grace and humility. I needed to touch base with a few people that day, but all my “work” was done so that shouldn’t be an issue.
You know that term “epic fail”? I believe it would be appropriate to just hashtag this particular Sunday that way. Because everything that could go wrong, went wrong that Sunday. I walked into the Hispanic service talking not realizing they started at 8, not 8:15. Not 1, not 2, but 3 volunteers didn’t show up at the 9:30 hour on the Sunday we had more kids than ever before. The computer WOULD NOT connect to the projector so HOURS OF SLIDE PREP were rendered useless. I was supposed to be recognized at the 11 am service but never actually made it to the service. And those few people I needed to talk to… yeah, well, that didn’t happen.
The thing is, I knew better. From years of experience, I knew that on Sunday the best laid plan does not in any way guarantee a smooth and peaceful morning. Simply put, Sundays do not work. Sundays in ministry are designed to not work.
It’s not that God is not working; it’s that Sundays don’t work for you. They are not intended to for three basic reasons.
- Sundays are primarily for Worship – If children’s ministry is your job, Sundays are your busiest day and worship is farthest from your mind. I get that. I live that! But, the reality is, the people who are coming to the building for the first and maybe only time that week are not coming to “work.” They are coming to worship. Their thoughts aren’t on the Christmas pageant, the volunteer training, the parent seminar, and the kids’ Sunday school. They are thinking about seeing friends, singing songs, hearing a sermon and where to go for lunch once that’s all done. They are in a different mode.
- Sundays are Sabbath days – You only get to see these wonderful fellow congregants once a week, and you feel like Sunday is your one opportunity to have that face-to-face conversation you’ve been meaning to have about volunteering or raising support or why family ministry is so important. But guess what? The people you want to talk to don’t want to talk about any of that stuff on Sunday. Sunday is their day off, not their day on. They don’t want you to come talk to them about working and serving and heavy stuff like family ministry. They want you to hug them, speak words of encouragement to them, and enjoy the morning with them. You might be on the job, but they are definitely not in that frame of mind. Which leads us to…
- Sundays are for social networking – Recently, I had someone tell me that the biggest reason they come to church is for the “fellowship,” aka hanging out with friends. There may be some deeper issues in that comment but let’s be honest, for a lot of our church members, Sundays are the only time they will get to connect with their church friends. Guess what you don’t want to do during those few precious hours? That’s right – you don’t want to go volunteer in a basement around the same kids you are with all week long or better yet change some other kid’s dirty diaper. You want to be with your friends.
Meanwhile, those of us who serve in ministry, see Sunday in a very different light. Sundays are our “on” days. Often we find our opportunity to worship at some other place and time. Most pastors I know take Monday or Friday off as their Sabbath day. Our social networking is outside the church building and the only faces we do get to connect with on a Sunday are tiny cherubs and familiar volunteers.
Simply put, Sundays don’t work… for work. May I offer a few suggestions?
- Try to enjoy your Sunday – Don’t go into it planning to get anything done. And by anything, I mean anything. I’m not saying not to hand out your papers, teach your lessons, encourage your volunteers and sing your songs. But don’t look to recruit new volunteers, have conversations about the staging for the Christmas pageant or practice using Media Shout. Those parts of the job need to be done outside of Sunday morning.
- Schedule meetings on other days – Trust me, the extra time on your part will pay off as you will have their undivided attention and you will be able to give them yours. Plus, it creates extra time for you to connect with others and for them to see you when you’re not racing from one area of the church to another. Sometimes it may have to be a phone conversation, but even then not having so much pressure will let your conversation flow more easily.
- Trust God for the rest – There are always going to be challenges and holes to fill and gaps to plug. But God knows that. He is well aware of your ministry needs and adding stress to your already busy Sunday doesn’t help hurry Him along. Give Him your ministry, cast your cares on Him, and then proceed boldly and wisely forward.
Sundays can be days where we find our greatest joys, answered prayers, and ministry victories. While they may not work for “work” they certainly do for worshipping the “Lord of the work!” Cherish your Sundays, work your Mondays (or Tuesdays or Wednesdays…) and trust God for all the needs in between.
Have you had a Sunday recently where you tried to work but everything seemed to fall apart? What days of the week are most productive for you? Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comment section! I would love to hear from you!