Last week I had the privilege to attend the Worship Mentor Gathering. I spent two and a half wonderful days with some really smart and passionate worship leaders. I joked that I was the token tech guy at the event; at least until Stephen Proctor showed up. Then we were the two token tech guys... Seriously, it was a great time talking with some really smart people and being challenged in the way I look at worship, the church and faith.
On Monday night, I went out to the deck of the hotel and watched the ocean for a while. Did I mention it was held in Laguna Beach? Overlooking the ocean? Who says ministry has to be all pain and suffering? Anyway, I was watching the waves for a while. At first I wasn’t paying much attention to them, other than seeing how big some of them got. Then I started noticing a bit of a pattern. There would be a series of small waves, followed by a couple medium waves, a few more small waves then a couple of really big waves. Then the sequence started all over again. It didn’t always go exactly like that, and I didn’t stop to count numbers of small, medium and large to determine a pattern, but there was clearly a pattern.
As I stood there pondering this, I felt the Lord reminding me that this is kind of what serving in the worship department of a church is like. The weekends keep coming, just like the waves crashing onto the shore. We have smaller weekends (call them “normal’), a few that make a bigger splash, and a couple of really big ones. Then we do it again. As I was working this all out, a few more thoughts came to mind.
First, one could view weekend services as relentless. They just keep coming, week after week after week. Whether you’re a TD, a worship leader, or someone who supports those two, the job never ends. You never get to the point where you can say, “Ahhh, finally. That’s finished. Now let’s start something new.” There is always one more weekend coming; and another one after that.
But then I started thinking about some of our conversations earlier that day about art and it’s importance in the church. It occurred to me that like the waves, every weekend is different. If you watch waves break on a beach, you’ll notice that they don’t all break the same way. Some break over here, some over there. Some break right up on the shoreline, others a little farther out. If you look at the waves, you’ll notice that they’re all quite beautiful, and all quite different. It’s a lot like art. Weekends, like waves, give us a chance to create art every seven days. We get to infuse our artistic aesthetic into our church body in slightly different ways every time a weekend comes around.
It’s also important to know that we need to take a break once in a while. About 20 years ago, I was on a job in Puerto Rico. It was a plum gig; a seven-day stay at a ocean side resort and I only had to work a few hours a day. One night, while strolling the beach, I started body surfing. It started out innocently enough, just getting my feet wet. Before I knew it, I was riding really big waves in and out. I had a blast. After about a half hour and dozens of waves, I was exhausted. I had to get out and head back to my room and collapse.
That’s kind of what church can be like. Creating art every week, week after week can be exhausting. We need to take a break once in a while to recharge. I’ve been working on making a habit of taking a weekend off every quarter or so, and it’s amazing how exhilarating that is. I actually find myself more energized when I get back to work the next week. It’s a practice I heartily recommend.
If you feel like the weekends just keep coming and you're getting tired, perhaps you need to change your perspective. You have a chance to create art every seven days. And art has a funny effect on people. Augustine said that the human heart is astonished when it receives truth sideways. That’s what we do. We present truth through the side door, and it can make all the difference in the world. More on that concept to come...