52 Ways: #36 – Schedule a Sunday to take over the service

This week’s suggestion takes some forward planning.  It involves giving your pastor or other key ministry leaders a weekend off.  In essence, you’re kicking them out and telling them to go away for the day or weekend and have a great time.  Or sleep in.  Their choice.

In order to successfully pull this one off you’ll have to have your pastor’s cooperation, of course, otherwise it could look like a mini-coup (NOT mini-coupe, that’s a car).  You don’t want your pastor to worry that you’re kicking him out of the pulpit.  You want to be a blessing, not an additional source of stress!

So, once you’ve told your pastor your plans to give him/her a day of rest from official pastoral duties you’ll need to find a replacement for the day.  I’m sure there are retired pastors in your congregation that would love to get back in the saddle.  The college pastor may love a chance at “the big time”. Or, the pastor may know of someone that he’s wanted to invite to share a word with the congregation.  Then, go with it.  Pick a future date, make some calls, and give your pastor an unexpected blessing of a Sabbath rest – that isn’t considered part of his vacation!

Do you want to know why I think it is important to give every member of your pastoral staff an unexpected day off?  Because ministry is stressful.  Coming up with something meaningful to share week after week takes its toll.  Think back to your own high school and college years.  Would you have enjoyed writing a paper every single week and then presenting it to the class to be judged on its merit and value?  It is a lot of work and tiring mental gymnastics to find something new and fresh to talk about.  That’s how your pastor feels.  Some run out of ideas and resort to downloading sermons from the internet.  It’s the truth.  I talked to a pastor recently that admitted to using Sermon Central because he had run out of ideas and didn’t have the time to develop new material on his own.  He, and probably hundreds of pastors across America all gave the same sermon for Mother’s Day because administrative duties and urgent daily needs robbed him of the necessary time to go away with The Father and reflect on His word.  Not to mention the fact that he was just plain tired.

That’s why an unexpected day off here and there can go far in restoring the spring to your pastor’s step.  However, it’s not only the lead or teaching pastor that could use the blessing of a day off.  ALL, yep, all of the pastoral staff would benefit from having someone else teach the junior high students on a Sunday morning or take the young marrieds class during the 9:30 am service.  You know the children’s pastor would appreciate a Sunday morning where someone else received those early morning calls saying four volunteers can’t work the nursery and three-year-old class.

Call it a break.  Call it a mental health day.  Call it anything you like as long as you call your pastor and begin the process of giving him/her/them a non-vacation weekend off.

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