As you know, we at Preparing for Amazement focus on the health of people and congregations. To aid you in thinking through such health, I want to take a moment and consider what it means for congregations to ask the following question focused on spiritual health:
How do we practice Sabbath together?
Do you remember when your teacher gave you “busy work” in school just to extend the work of the day? Or do you have a boss who seems to give you a ton of “busy work” just to keep your time occupied?
We have all been there before – we do work just to keep ourselves busy. The church is not immune to this phenomenon. In fact, we sometimes create the busy work amongst ourselves just to feel like we are “doing ministry.” After all, there’s always something pressing to do, whether that’s the budget, the design of a new program, or discussion about new opportunities and old threats. I can hear the whispers now: “Why on earth would we Sabbath when we have all this stuff to do!?”
Of course, there are times where urgency and focus are required. However, in my own experience in leading churches, I have seen my share of meetings that could be emails or that go on far beyond they need to. We have the time for Sabbath. More importantly, we have the need for it.
So, how do we Sabbath together?
The easiest way is by not meeting. Don’t worry! Most of the time, your congregation can handle one meeting not being kept. Maybe instead of a meeting, you go somewhere together and just enjoy each other’s company? If you really want to commit to Sabbath, make it a priority to do this once a year.
There are other ways too.
- You can take a retreat rest, where you go somewhere together to spend time with God and alone with meals and debriefing along the way.
- You can take a break in a tense meeting to do something relaxing.
- Take an inventory of what everyone experiences as restful and commit to doing it separately or together each month.
- Spend time in the Scriptures in a way that everyone finds restful.
- Pray together with no pressure to do or say anything.
There is plenty more! Explore on your own and figure out what works for you. Whatever it is, you can begin this time of Sabbath together by committing to it. A simple promise to one another can help tons:
“I promise to use our Sabbath time as intended: restful, spiritual, and peaceful.”
Nate Whittaker, Coach