Church-Planting Lesson 8 – Make Space For Sabbath

sabbathYesterday was amazing!  I enjoyed a lie-in, ignored my mobile, kept my lap-top shut and spent the whole day with my family – climbing up climbing frames, sliding down slides, playing football and bouncing around in the soft play with my beautiful kids. I started reading a book I’ve wanted to read for ages, breathed in the beauty of God’s creation as I walked the dog, and following a hot bath at the end of the day – curled up with my gorgeous wife and watched an episode of Robin Hood!

I love family days – they keep me alive!! Here’s why…

Basically, planting a church has been one of the most intense, immense, claustrophobic, all-consuming, exhilarating, faith-stretching experiences of my life. In the early days especially, it could have been so easy to get sucked in to a dangerously unhealthy way of life in a bid to dig foundations, engage culture and generally feel like I was doing something other than just sitting on a big vision. Not only is this dangerous, but with all the best intentions in the world, grafting 24/7 to get the church up and running is also completely unsustainable.

The church planter’s secret weapon is sabbath. Here’s why…

1. It’s Biblical: Sabbath is not our idea, it’s God’s idea!

“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” (Genesis 2v2)

If you think about it, God’s the only One who would ever dream up something as inspired as sabbath. All around us we see people who pursue wealth and greatness and are willing to sacrifice pretty aything to get it – including health, time, family and sanity. God on the other hand took time out following His creative activity, not because He was tired (God doesn’t get tired) but to take a step back, enjoy what He had made and revel in His own glory (God’s the only One awesome enough to bask in personal glory!) If God saw the need to take a step back and enjoy His glory – I guess we should do the same! While Sunday is a sabbath to many – for a church planter it’s anything but, so we try to take time out during the week to enjoy God together as a family!

 2. It’s Practical: Sabbath is God’s command for us to chill out!

Life can be hard, busy, noisy and can quickly suck the life out of you (especially in church planting). It wasn’t until I took the bold step of turning off all my communication devices that I realised how addictive those things are! We literally jump at their every beeeeeping request! Even on a strictly human level – sabbath makes so much sense – it literally does recharge the batteries and help keep you sharp. After listening to a really helpful sermon on sabbath from an Acts 29 Bootcamp, I have now laid out what the Hankey sabbath is to look like:

  • Unplug – all possible means of unnecessary and unwanted distraction.
  • Enjoy God – spending time in worship, prayer, reading, chatting about the Scriptures and marvelling at God’s creation.
  • Enjoy family – ensuring that my kids get spoilt (in a good way) by receiving my sustained, focussed attention and that my wife gets treated like the Princess that she is!
  • Enjoy life – find reasons to smile, laugh, make memories and live in the reality that life’s a gift from God to be enjoyed!

3. It’s Exemplary:  sabbath is something we should model.

Busy pastors who burn themselves out in the name of ministry will innevitably grow churches full of Christians who burn themselves out in the name of ministry. Jesus was the Don when it came to modelling sabbath to His disciples, regularly stepping out of the battle to hang out with the Father. I don’t want Hill City saints to be characterised so much by the breadth of their ministry as by the depth of their relationship with God. This is an area in which leaders are veyr much called to lead by example!

Please God help me get it right – to Your glory, my family’s joy, my church’s health and my personal sanity!

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