In a blog post last October entitled Sunday, Saturday, Tuesday I described the exhaustion that many Christians frequently feel at the end of Sundays that start early and end late, leaving them wishing for a day of rest before the start of the work week:

The day starts early with worship and Sunday School, then there is a quick lunch before a succession of activities that can easily run until nearly bedtime:  committee meetings, work groups, training sessions, service projects, evening worship services, small group meetings, and youth activities.  The larger your church, the more susceptible you are to “activity overload.”  Many of us feel pangs of guilt if we ever start to question the rationality or healthiness of such a frenetic start-to-finish pace on Sundays, because all of these activities revolve around good things; needful things; spiritual things.  But, for a people who believe and teach salvation by grace and not by works, we Christians sure do measure a lot of spiritual faithfulness, commitment, and maturity (in ourselves and others) in terms of the number of ministries involved in and the number of organized activities attended.  

As church leaders, we often lament the breakneck pace of our culture and the overcommitment of time that Christian families make between work, school, ballgames, and social events.  Then, we respond by packing as many activities as possible into the one remaining day of the week.  No, I am not calling for an end to the multitude of ministries and good works in which God has called His children to be involved; just asking for some balance and moderation.  With all of the special-emphasis Sundays that churches celebrate, maybe we could observe a periodic “Worship Sunday” in which the church calendar is cleared and a moratorium is declared on all official, organized activities, with the exception of an expanded morning worship assembly lasting an hour and a half or two hours.  No Bible classes (give your hard-working teachers a morning off!).  No fellowship meal.  No small groups.  No evening worship assembly.  Just an hour or two to become “lost in wonder, love, and praise” and then dismiss for the day.

Yesterday was just such a day at the Broken Arrow church.  About three months ago, the staff identified April 25 as the date on which we would celebrate a Day of Worship and Rest, involving a two-hour worship assembly on Sunday morning.  We received the elders’ blessing on keeping the rest of the day entirely free from other activities.  As members called to schedule and secure space for wedding and baby showers and planning sessions for mission trips, VBS, summer camp, etc., the administrative staff simply explained the plans for the day and suggested alternative dates.  Bible class teachers would be given the morning off.   Two shifts of nursery attendants would be needed during the assembly, and Children’s Bible Hour would meet during the second hour following Communion.  Members would be encouraged to devote the remainder of the day to rest, renewal, and family time.

It is amazing how quickly two hours passed yesterday morning.  We were an hour and a half into the service before I even looked at a clock.  Time didn’t seem to be a consideration.  Numerous songs (about 3 times as many as normal time constraints allow for) were offered before the Father’s throne in a sacrifice of praise.  Mike, Rich, Scott, and I each shared “mini-lessons” focused on various aspects of our worship.  We had an extended period of time devoted to sharing in the bread and wine in memory of the Savior’s sacrificial death for our sins.  We closed the assembly by singing “Bind Us Together,” “A Common Love,” and “The Greatest Commands” with united hearts and joined hands.  After the service, members seemed to stay around longer than usual.  With no afternoon or evening activities planned, there really wasn’t a sense of urgency about leaving. 

A Day of Worship and Rest.  Purposeful.  Meaningful.  Refreshing.  Bound to be repeated in the future!