There are two weeks a year that the pastoral staff at your church probably loves to prepare for: the week leading up to Christmas and the week leading up to Easter. They’re probably the week that they may also dread.
If you watch pro football, you’re probably familiar with the term “short week”. It usually means that a team playing on Sunday has a Thursday night game the following week, and they only have 4 days to prepare for that next game.
In the church calendar, this is the equivalent of a “short week”. You complete the Sunday service, which may or may not have a special Palm Sunday element, you then have five days to get ready for Good Friday service (which we have added this year at our church), and then have another day to get ready for Easter Sunday, which is always a big day. Same thing usually happens around Christmas depending on when Christmas Eve falls around the Sunday before or after.
I’ve gone through 2 years of this now and am starting on the third. It’s tough, because I do approach it with a lot of excitement and anticipation. I also know how much work and preparation it will require and how much my wife will stress out between now and Sunday.
You hope that attendance will be high, although for our church we have Spring Break against us this year and people will be out of town.
You hope that the church will be energized and moved closer to God, but when attendance is down, so is the energy of the church.
You hope that all the plans you’ve made, the music you’ve prepared, and the media you’re ready to share will produce altar calls on a scale never seen before, believers begging to be baptized and to join the church, and offering plates that are overflowing.
But why hope for these things when God’s Word tells us to hope for none of these things?
Jesus says, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” He’s not counting our church attendance.
Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” He’s not measuring our worship volume.
God’s Word says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” He’s not interested in the spiritual or financial metrics of our worship.
God asks for only two things out of our worship: our love for Him and our honest expression of that love for Him in our worship. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.—John 4:24 (ESV)
Anything else we are doing is not in love and is in worship of ourselves and what we are doing in the church. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.—1 Corinthians 13:1 (ESV)
So, in closing, love your pastor this week. He has a lot of work to do and little time to rest. The least we can do to encourage him and to show our love back to him is to love God earnestly in our worship.