My last article about Lay Ministry is still playing in my mind (if you haven’t read it you can see it here) and I was thinking I would so love for people who struggle with the concept of lay ministry / volunteers and also with the concept of leadership and differing roles to be able to witness my Sunday. From start to finish in all it’s finery. My sometimes 12 and a half hour day, that is always, regardless of what happens within it, my favourite day of the week. The day that I term #SundayFunday.
In a bid to explain the context to my thinking’s and highlight something that is very different in the two church cultures I am now a part of I would love to walk you through a Sunday.
My Alarm will go off at 6.45 and I will leave the house at 7.30 hopefully arriving at church by 7.45 (I’m a sleepy head who works full time and faffs on with her makeup so often I arrive closer to the 8am mark big ooops!)
As service pastor I stand on the door and welcome team in but for todays purposes we are going to be a team member, and after we’ve been welcomed with a smile, a hello and maybe a hug we head into the auditorium.
At this point I am going to ask that you humour me, and that, instead of looking for the differences (and immediately questioning what kind of church has a space called an “auditorium”, or freaking out if I mention drums instead of an organ) you be open minded and remember we are about One Father God, One Son and One Holy Spirit and that we ALL gather under no other name, that our message is (and should be) the same and it is our methods that are different.
As we head into the auditorium there can be anywhere from 15 to 30 people gathered they are team members and leaders, some will have pastoral roles and team leader roles some will have been on team for years some a matter of weeks. Only 6-10 of those would be employed staff. Some may have happened to go to bible college in one sense or another but none would be ordained in the CofE sense of the word. What there will be in that room will be lawyers, teachers, electricians, project managers, nurses, Dr’s and dentists, mothers, fathers, grandparents and children alike. Most of them will have midweek jobs in addition to some midweek church responsibilities such as hosting a midweek group or leading our youth.
At 8 o’clock we open with something we call good reports / praise reports – we thank God for things in the week or people in the week – some may give encouragements from what they have read in the bible. After those good reports we gather together and we pray over our day, over everyone who will be coming to church that day, for guests and visitors we pray for our teams and logistical running of the day.
When 8.20 comes along the service pastors come up and join (with jars of coffee) and we socialise for twenty minutes – Sundays are busy days and long days but we are more than team, we are friends and almost family – we believe everything should be done out of relationship and we should be connected to each other in community / fellowship as well as connected to God.
Once we have had a nice chat and caught up we get down to business – Preparing the horse for battle if you will. Team leaders brief their teams and work starts. Again please excuse the differences in roles, but, in addition to leadership briefs about the running order of the day we have that huge army of volunteers getting to work. The church is hoovered and cleaned, toilets cleaned and stocked up, chairs put out, cards put on the chairs with giving envelopes and other things. The coffee team start up the coffee machine. Role are allocated who will welcome on the door, the stairs, the balcony and outside. People will know it’s their job to do people count, salvation / decision count and money count.
At the same time the production team will be testing the lights and sound system, the musical instruments will be checked and the singers and musicians will do a sound check. The audio visual team will check they have bible verses and screens and videos to play, they will also check there are not faults in the video we like to avoid distractions where possible.
At the same time as all of this we have another host of volunteers, these ones are hero’s in my eyes and often unseen unless you are a parent. These are the team of volunteers who are all DBS checked and who help look after your children. They don’t just “look after” your children and they don’t babysit – they deliver a curriculum to teach your children about Jesus and they are raising champions (not raising future champions or future leaders but raising the champions and leaders of today).
This army of volunteers will have these skills, gifts and talents to use and they choose to give their time – some may use the same skills they use in their jobs some may use different ones but each and every one, volunteer or staff, lay or ordained are serving and we believe this is as much part of our worship as singing our songs or praying our prayers.
By 10.30 doors open and we welcome people in – I’d like to think by the time someone has entered church and walked up the stairs they will have been welcomed and smiled at by at least three people. They will be shown a seat and they will be directed to the coffee and resources area (which by the way was stocked and manned by more volunteers)
The service starts at 11 instead of a service book an MC on platform will help direct you to what is going on where in the service. Words to songs appear on the screen and bible verses throughout the preaching.
After the first service we do it all again for a 1.15 service …then… after that (some of us) have a short break and get ready to do it all again at 5pm.
What is that for?
What is it about – the reason?
The main thing if you like?
The pivotal moment?
The pivotal point of our Sunday actually happens every single service, it is what the whole day builds up to, and that is the point where we give people the opportunity to connect with Jesus and decide to be a Christian or to reconnect with him.
That is the reason that sometimes my lunch will be eaten on the go or that I don’t leave until after 7pm. But that is the reason all of us do what we do. It is sacrifice, and it is generosity, we have a phrase from our Senior Pastor that says our church isn’t built on the gifts and talents of a few but on the sacrifice of many and that could not be more true.
Back to my perspective of lay and ordained and the L word that in many circles within some churches seems to be a dirty word… leadership. We all serve, we believe it follows Jesus example and it is part of our worship. Some of us lead area’s and teams some may lead a team but not an area or vice versa, we are invested in and trained in leadership and given opportunities. We are trusted and encouraged and given responsibility and sometimes I imagine we disappoint or find something that isn’t where we serve best but other times we flourish beyond our expectations.
We know we contribute to something bigger.
We know we belong.
We have a sense of ownership and responsibility.
Maybe this context helps to understand why I can’t quite grasp the issue that people have with lay versus ordained. Even if you keep the sacrament side of things separate for ordained there are still so many roles to be done in so many ways by so many people. Even if your drums are actually an organ or your lights are actually flowers we can all help build the Church.