I married into a pastor’s family twenty years ago so I get to see the human behind the pastor – at family dinners, holidays, and weekend events. I see the exhaustion, the glazed over expression – the mental fatigue. I honestly think there is no harder job than pastoring a church. They work 7 days a week caring for and giving to a large body of people. I’ve worried about our pastors and staff at the church we attend….. but truthfully, not that often. I see them when they’re working – on Sundays and during the week in meetings. They’re smiling, engaged, and seem full of energy – they have their “A” game on.
My thought process abruptly shifted during a meeting at our church yesterday. I found out that Mondays are jokingly referred to as “bring a shovel to work” day. Why? To shovel through the complaints and concerns that arrive via email and voice mail after the weekend. I was surprised. I asked, “Don’t you get any thanks and praise?” The response was, “I think we may have one, but I have to return the call to see for sure.” I was speechless. You see, we are so lucky……our church is full of thankful and faithful people……people who are strong in their walk with Christ. I feel amazingly blessed to be a part of it. So why do we only share our concerns – not our thanks and praise? At that moment, God planted a seed deep in my heart.
I know most of you are like me. Every Sunday I feel inspired by the sermon and thankful for our church. But I don’t regularly tell anyone or say anything. I know our pastors are spread thin, so I don’t want to add to their already full inbox. But what if our church became a bucket church instead of a shovel church? What if every one of us who felt thanks and praise on Sunday or during the week sent an email, left a voice mail, or sent a note?…… What if the staff needed to “bring a bucket to work” on Mondays to carry home all the thanks and praise from our 2000 members?…… How would this change our staff?…… How would it fill them up?……..How would this change us as members of the body of Christ?…… How would this change our church? ……. If we practice thanks and praise on a weekly basis in our church, how would this affect the rest of our lives?
I know there will always be a certain level of complaints and people should be able to freely express themselves. But what if we gave our concerns to God first? I’ve been part of a highly successful high school sports program for 5 years. They have been state champions 9 times. That level of achievement does not come without tough issues for coaches, team members, and parents. But we have a rule. If you are upset and feel that something is unfair or unjust or simply not right – we’re asked to wait 48 hours before sending an email or picking up the phone. If we still have the same feelings after 48 hours, then we are encouraged to make that call. You see most of the time, 48 hours leads to some sort of resolution. What if we used the same 48 hour rule in our church? What if we used that time to pray about the issue and gave God the time to work on it? Do you think many of the issues would be resolved?
I’m not sure why God planted this seed in my heart, but I know without a doubt, I want to be part of a bucket church. I want to give thanks and praise to the point of overflowing. I want our church staff and pastors to be excited and energized by coming to work on Monday…… I want Mondays to be “take a bucket to work” day to carry home all the thanks and praise not just because it will make a difference in our staff’s lives, our own lives, and our church as a whole………..but because it’s how God calls us to live.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)