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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Why I Don't Preach Every Sunday

I just took three Sundays in a row off from teaching at People's Church. I was on vacation the first two Sundays, and the third Sunday I led the services but didn't teach. Let me give you some insight to why I don't preach every Sunday, and why I don't think any pastor should teach every Sunday.

Sermons on the weekends are not just 30-minute talks. A 30-minute message drains as much emotional energy as the average 8-hour workday. If a pastor has to speak more than once each weekend, the emotional drain is multiplied, and if there is not a break from speaking, significant emotional and physical health is often compromised. Over the last seven years, People's Church has had a multiple service schedule. We have had 2, 3, 4, 5 and currently 3 services on Sundays. We will be adding a 4th service in the near future. On top of studying and preaching Sundays, most senior pastors are responsible for staff, budgets, hiring, releasing staff, buying land, building new facilities, ministries, outreach, care, weddings, funerals, missions, creating momentum, sustaining momentum, etc. The bottom line is the buck normally stops with the senior pastor no matter how many people may be on staff and oversee the various areas of ministry. This schedule can destroy a senior pastor’s health, emotions, family and spiritual vitality if they don't take time away from preaching and leading (and especially preaching).

The leaders of People's Church understand the importance of having and keeping a healthy pastor. We made a decision several years ago to disperse the preaching load. This year, I will preach 38 Sundays at People's Church. That comes out to an average of a little bit more than 3 out of 4 weekends each month. The remaining Sundays, our teaching team (Chris Smith & Troy Martin) teach God's Word. We occasionally have other staff speak as well. We also bring in another pastor or an evangelist once or twice a year.

I am not complaining about my job because I love what I do, but I am being raw and real about the reality of a senior pastor’s schedule. Pastors who speak more than 40 weekends a year with multiple weekend services are headed for burnout. There may be a handful of Superman pastors who can do this long-term, but there is a long list of those who have tried and have ended up losing their families, their health, or worse, their own spiritual vitality. I do not want to be on that list. I miss People's Church when I am gone, but I know that I am not the only person who is called and gifted to teach Scripture. I believe in the power of team, and I believe the church is strongest when a multitude of voices are heard on Sundays.

I am running a marathon and want to be an old pastor who finishes the race well rather than a young, foolish one, who is convinced that the church won't make it and thrive if I don't teach 52 Sundays a year.

Thanks, Pastor Brady Boyd, for the inspiration and for some of the content for this blog post!