It’s December 26th, the day after Christmas. Some of us have already gone back to the office. Others are still enjoying time off. There are ski trips to take, family to visit, and malls to invade with after Christmas sales and gift cards. What was the holiday for you?
Because Christmas eve was on Sunday this year, many churches in our area held Christmas Eve services instead of the normal Sunday morning services. I was quite happy to attend the service in the morning, but I heard more than a few people grumble about not having an evening service. I was amazed to hear the grumbling and grousing about it all. After all, what would it take to do just one little service that evening? Having been married to a minister for many years and also being an active volunteer for more years than that, let me tell you what that would entail.
For a regular Sunday morning service, the worship team arrives at least an hour earlier than the scheduled service. And any setup, has to be done even earlier than that. For the church I attend, the worship team is asked to be on stage by 7:45am and the setup crew starts at arrives begins to unload before 7:00am. Even in churches that are not “mobile”, the worship leader (or music minister, jack-of-all trades) has to arrive early enough to get the sound system and stage areas setup and to solve any issues that may arise due to damage to said equipment during the previous days. If there are multiple services, you may have multiple setups to do depending on the location and style of each service. At my former church, on a normal Sunday, the praise team & band will lead 3 services that cover 2 different styles of music. By the time you get there at 11:00, they’ve already been going 2 1/2 hours at least. And there’s always someone ready to complain about the type of music, the speed of the music, the volume of the band or even how involved any of the members seemed to be during the service(s).
So, let’s consider this past Sunday. There were 3 Christmas Eve services at my church. Everything was ready to go by 9:00 am. The videos were ready. The prelude music was playing. The donuts and coffee were in place. All of the lighting was working and every seat in the theater where we meet had a special bracelet that was synced to the music that would be played/sung that morning. There was a full band, a worship team, a sound & lighting crew. There was also a kid’s praise team that was choreographed for a Christmas song. We had a great time and were done by 9:55 am. The people attending at 10:00 were lined up as we walked out. There were volunteers busily making last-minute adjustments for the next service and then it began all over again. And that happened once more at 11:00am. By the time all three packed services were done and everything put away, the crew and worship team had spent 5 hours preparing and leading. And that doesn’t count any rehearsal time outside of that Sunday. They were ready to crash and enjoy their own families after that.
Having been married to a minister for several years and a volunteer for many more years, the holidays add a whole different level of stress. Families often suffer as Mom and/or Dad are involved in numerous rehearsals and planning sessions. Family Christmas celebrations take 2nd place to providing the perfect Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service(s) for everyone else. Trying to figure out how to feed grumpy kids on Christmas Eve when you have to be getting everything prepped in the late afternoon and then won’t be done for several hours makes the holidays a bit irksome at times. And, if you know a minister that has extended family living in another town (or state), you know a minister and family that been forced to drive on Christmas Day to get to celebrate the holidays with family.
I’m not complaining about the years I spent as a volunteer. Some of the best worship times for me happened during rehearsal and setup before the “real” service. I just wish people would consider how much work it takes to make it look so easy. Let your worship team members and leaders know how much you appreciate them. Maybe you don’t care for the music or the volume, but at least you have the opportunity to worship (and not like it) every week. Your worship leaders very seldom hear the compliments, but they ALWAYS hear the complaints.
Wishing you a wonderful 2018! Let’s make it a great year full of joy, laughter and love for our church family.