Yesterday, I was able to experience church as an RC (regular congregant). I didn’t plan it this way (at least up until a few weeks ago), but it happened to work out that today is Memorial Day, and we had a contractor (John Garlick) in mixing FOH. That meant that with a simple PTO form, I could leverage 2 days of vacation into a 5-day weekend. I took the weekend off, and since Monday & Tuesday are our regular days off, I’m taking Memorial Day on Wednesday. It’s a perfect storm, only a very relaxing one. Anyway...
So I got to go to church with my family yesterday. I like to do this a few times a year (roughly once a quarter) for a number of reasons. I know a lot of tech guys think the have to be there, running the show every weekend. There may even be some for whom that is an expectation from leadership. I think this is a mistake; and I say that as one who used to be there every weekend. Here is why I take a weekend off once in a while.
It’s a good thing to view the service through the lens of someone who sits in the seats. When we hang out in the tech booth week after week, it’s hard to get a sense of what’s really going on in the pews, especially if you have a less than ideal tech booth location (as we do). But when we sit in the pews with the RCs, it’s a whole new experience. For example, last time I did this, I heard some things in the PA I didn’t like and saw a few things about lighting that were distracting. We made some changes, and this time around it was better. It was very encouraging to be surrounded by people singing and engaging in worship, which reminds me of why I do what I do 48 weekends a year.
I find it healthy to be reminded that I don’t have to be there every week for things to work. The minute I starting thinking that the whole train will go off the tracks if I don’t show up is the minute I need to make some changes. My team is great, and they did a great job. I didn’t receive a single text all weekend (except the one from Isaiah telling me the new lighting computer was wicked fast), and everything ran like clockwork. It’s good to know it’s not all about me, and that I’m really not that important to the whole service going well. You might want to be that critical component; I don’t.
I’ve also found that when I take a weekend off, it exposes weaknesses in process. If I’m doing my job well, I am developing processes and training other people to do them, so that when I’m not there, everything goes smoothly. One of the best ways to find out how I’m doing is to not be there. I beta test this by being there and not doing much, but there’s nothing like a lack of physical presence to point out cracks in the veneer. This week was very positive; everything worked. All I had to do all day was log in to the video computer and upload the already rendered message (which reminds me, I need to finish that step in the process...). The podcast was already up, which means that process worked.
My family is always shocked when I take a weekend off and sit with them. I think it’s good to do that once in a while. Not shock them, sit with them. I enjoy worshiping to gather as a family, and I like being taught the Scriptures together. These weekends off remind them that I still want to connect as a family and that they are important enough to me that I take time off to be with them. And, it just feels good to be able to worship without having to think about the next cue, or wonder if the SPL is too high or low.
If you’ve not developed your ministry to the point where you take a weekend off every now and again, I encourage you to do so. If you don’t, you are at a much higher risk of burnout, or even complete failure. The longer I do ministry, the longer a view I am learning to take of it. I want to be able to do this for a good long while, and the only way that can happen is if I stay healthy; physically, mentally and spiritually.
If your leadership doesn’t let you take a weekend off, print this post out and slip it in their mailbox. I don’t know of any Sr. Pastor who never takes a weekend off; why would they expect you to work 52 weekends a year? Right, Mr. Sr. Pastor?
Stay healthy, be in this for the long haul.