We had a great Sunday. Once a month, we have what we call Family Worship Sunday. Instead of dismissing kids to kids church, we keep all the kids in with their families. Because our vision is to be multi-generational, we intentionally do a service where kids and adults can worship and be discipled together. But on those days I have to be a little more creative in my sermon to make sure kids feel like they are truly included. So this Sunday we had a skit, a game show and two sermonettes rather than just one 40min sermon from me. It turned out great.
When the service was over everyone was standing around and talking as usual. They were discussing how fun the service was. But not me. I wasn’t laughing with people at all the fun moments or how wonderful the worship was. Sure, it was a great Sunday, but Sunday is coming! Next Sunday, that is. I didn’t take 5 minutes to enjoy it. I was starting already to think about next Sunday. I had to talk to my worship leader about the songs. I talked to a guy who would help me do the set for the next series. All of this took place no less than 10 minutes after I said “amen.”
Sunday is relentless. The responsibility of planning a meaningful service week after week after week is a huge challenge. You put your heart and soul into planning the worship, the message, and the response. Then, in less than 24 hours, you have to start the process all over again. It is exhausting. Many times larger churches have teams of people that can share the load of the creative elements of the services. But for the average pastor, much of the planning falls on your shoulders and you have to do all that alone.
Here are a few thoughts on how I fight this relentless drive toward next Sunday.
1. Month long sermon planning – Sure, I know everyone does that now. But here is WHY I do it. When I have a plan for the month, I generally know what topics and main point I will make each week. This takes the pressure off me to start from scratch every Sunday. That way I have several weeks to collect ideas or illustrations as I think of them weeks in advance.
2. Month long worship planning – Who ever said you have to have 4-5 different songs every week? Sunday planning is hard on you. Its also hard on your volunteer staff, especially your worship leader. My worship leader is a student in college and has to fit it in her schedule somewhere between Monday and Wednesday. Its hard on her too! That is why we try to have a month long plan for our worship as well. Rather than 20 different songs, we plan to do 10 or so songs and repeat one or two each week. It helps the congregation because they are more familiar with them and it makes worship planning easier. Plus, choosing songs that fit the theme connects the worship with the sermon.
3. One Creative Sunday: I know I cannot be creative every Sunday. I don’t have the emotional energy. But I know I can once a month with some time to think about it. That is another reason we do Family Worship Sunday. We do it for the kids, but more than that, we do it for the joy of our people. This past Sunday people dressed up like nerds because our theme was “following Jesus makes you different.” Kids loved it. Adults loved it. Its not always that drastic, but on FWS we add something extra to make it memorable. But there is no way I can do something like that every week. But I can be creative once a month. And because I have a month long plan, me and my volunteer staff have time to think on how to pull that off.
For me as an average pastor, I am always looking for ways to help slow the week down and take the pressure off for the next service. When I know what is coming, I can take time to enjoy what God did that week before stressing about the next week.
What are some ways you handle that pressure? I’d love to hear your ideas too!