by Rob Purcell/ December 24, 2015
I have been a children’s pastor for almost 16 years, and with that position comes the task of watching out for kids, parents, and the family in general. I have great concern for our church families lack of attention to the Sabbath. The biblical Sabbath is a day of rest, reconnection, and recognition of the creator. Every family needs this time.
Too many people consider going to a church service on Sunday morning and then going home to eat and watch the football game is an adequate Sabbath day of rest. But the Sabbath is to be set apart as holy to God. If we want to see our families healthy, we must build rest and the recognition of our creator into our weekly routine. As a pastor I must be honest, Sundays are not a Sabbath for my family and me. Nor is it a Sabbath for most people who serve in church.
The trend is for families to go, go, go, without much of a break. Granted, all families have a choice to cut out activities, such as sports, fund-raisers, dances, PTA, etc. The responsibility does not fall solely on the church or pastors to correct this trend; however, as ministers we are to set an example and to train people.
A friend of mine, Joseph Britain, who has worked in the church world for over 30 years tells me often how the church has a knack for over-booking the calendar. When it comes to using our time in serving, he says, “Well it’s only one time a year…all year long!” Pastors in particular are often not careful in guarding families’ schedules or in teaching people about rest. If it’s true that 20% of the people do 80% of the work in churches, think about how we are taxing that 20%.
A family in the church I serve brought to my attention an example of how a church they’d attended remedied this problem. James River Assembly, in Springfield, MO, would pick five focus points for the year and would emphasize those five points throughout that year. This simplified the schedule and drew families to those five events.
Pastors often work 40, 50, 60 hours a week for the ministry. The families we serve work 40, 50, 60 hours a week then come and serve. Families may be better served if they learn when to say yes and when to say no, and to set aside a day for rest and recognition of God. Maybe the church would be better served if we as pastors would teach our families to do the work of the ministry and disciple people outside the four walls of the church every day. This way the Christian life would be a part of all our families’ experiences, not compartmentalized events throughout the year.