I’m a bit concerned that this post will read like I’m saying ‘look at me, I’m amazing’ or ‘look at me, I’m an idiot’ depending on your perspective. I’m going to do my best to avoid both and hope that some of my readers will probably relate to what I’m saying. I think part of the issue is being in a small church and being someone who does not have those other classic multitasking roles like parenting or being a carer or holding several jobs.
So here’s the run down, currently at my main church I:
- Lead worship about once a month (play guitar and sing… and pray and choose the songs, have a practice with the singer midweek, put the words on the laptop, arrive early and set up the PA and then set down the PA at the end, mostly with some help, thankfully).
- Preach about once a month (this has increased recently as our church leader is unwell… there’s a fair bit of preparation involved here too).
- Am a trustee… our meetings aren’t that frequent but it does feel like quite a responsibility.
- Am the Child Protection Coordinator… I have some background in this area so I took a lead in rewriting our policies and doing some training. Most weeks there isn’t much call on this role but occasionally it requires some important action.
- Oversee finance… I’m not officially the treasurer but neither is anyone else. I do work with someone else who does the week to week finance admin thankfully.
- Co-lead a house group… My friend and co-leader does more of the organisation and work at the moment I’d say, but I do go most weeks and try to say wise and helpful things from time to time.
I’ve just come off the main set-up rota as I always seemed to be doing something else at the same time. I am grateful that there isn’t the expectation (as there is in some churches) that the same people lead worship or preach every week. I haven’t done kidswork in many years although I feel like I should be offering to do something more to support the youth. It all seems a bit crazy, particularly alongside a full-time job although I am grateful that my job has fluctuating busy times and less busy times. Sadly I am currently in a busy time which is likely to last until late May although even now, I know my job is much less pressured than many. Really busy people probably don’t spend Saturday afternoon blogging…
I did some searching on the idea of multitasking in church and the consensus seems to be not to do it. People seem to think that you perform much better if you focus on one main ministry. I can see the wisdom in this, and how if top quality were required I know I could improve my guitar playing and singing if I focused a lot more time on that, or my preaching if I focused a lot more time on that. One of the things I really like about my church is that it feels more like family than any kind of performance, and that people are on my side and I think looking for ‘good-enough‘ rather than excellence. If my worship and preaching point to God, and are accessible to most people, then I don’t think people mind if I stumble from time to time over chords or words. I know other churches have more of a focus on excellence but I don’t think that’s particularly scriptural or realistic in a small church. It’s good to do things whole-heartedly, but I like a church meeting where anyone can join in, contribute and feel welcomed rather than one which feels slick and where people up the front seem super-human.
I think the idea of church as family means I help out more, particularly in times like now when others are incapacitated. Family seems like the place where everyone should get stuck in and do some regular chores as well as extra things when needed. I alluded earlier to the multitasking in parenting, and I know I could find many blogs out there listing the multiple roles played by Mums, and increasingly Dads too, often alongside full time jobs. However busy I might think I am with church responsibilities, I still manage to have one lie-in most weekends, and I manage to go to the cinema a lot. I think most parents would be a bit envious of the amount of time I have to myself. I even manage to go to another church some Sunday afternoons (although emphatically as a punter, with the luxury of focusing on God rather than any jobs I have to do). This feels restorative, not an added pressure.
I know I need to be needed, and I really appreciate positive and thoughtful feedback from others. Interestingly this comes most often when I preach rather than any of the other roles. Perhaps I have more gifting in this area, or perhaps people are more in the habit of thanking a preacher. I know there is a danger in feeling good about myself in terms of what I do, and how much I serve rather than seeing my value in how God sees me. I want to believe that if I were suddenly bed-bound, unable to do anything much except pray, that God would still see me as just as precious. I know I would struggle with being so restricted, and I should probably pray more for the people I know in something more like this situation.
If I read stories of missionaries or others in full-time Christian ministry, they seem to be doing so much more. When your whole life is a struggle and a witness, when you face significant opposition from authorities or spiritual attack – I guess then I realise how little I have to complain about. In most ways my life is so comfortable – I know I could be doing and sacrificing more.
But I also know about burnout – in work and Christian circles. I guess I’m writing this to help myself figure out what is sustainable. If a few different areas of church life suddenly got more stressful, I think I would find it hard to keep all my current plates spinning. I wonder how some tasks could be shared more, and whether there are other people who would love to have more responsibility in certain areas. My impression is that we are a bit short-handed everywhere, and that some people who might like to do more or clearly have gifting and talents have just too much else going on in their lives or various limiting health conditions.
If my example is Jesus, he clearly served his Father in a wide range of ways although he tended to ask others to do the hospitality bit. He managed to go to parties and dinners, and took regular time off by himself to pray. The gospels don’t record “and then Jesus went off on a mini break to play crazy golf with his friends” or “then Jesus booked a holiday to Canada to admire the scenery and animals his Father had made”. One could argue that his main ministry on earth only continued at such a pace for three years…
I have booked a holiday (roll on June!) and I have quit the set-up rota, and I am trying to be mindful of what I am doing and why. I know my recent ‘stepping-up’ has been noticed and appreciated, and I am going to be involved in more discussions about the way forward and who is doing what. I am seeking wisdom on all this, so please do offer any helpful advice or things that have helped you/ your church, or pray for me/ us. Thanks.