On July 3rd I buried an 18-year old student of mine who died after complications from open heart surgery.
Two months before that we were in the middle of a teaching series called RESILIENCE – When Faith Won’t Fail. Now, I’m a planner. I’m not the kind of youth pastor that figures out what to talk about the night before. I just can’t. So I plan out my series months in advance, sometimes even a year. They are well thought out, I try to make them flow together and with the time of year, and not overload the schedule with one type of series or another.
But one particular Saturday night in May I heard that this student’s surgeries were causing complications. So, I punted my sermon and rallied all the students together to spend the morning praying for our friend.
Even though I had spent hours and hours that week in study and preparation, picking out some truths that would prove to be exciting and new, finding the greatest ways to illustrate the text to a teenage audience, finding sweet graphics for my presentation, praying over the notes, rehearsing it over the weekend – it’s just a series.
Would you be willing to “mess up” the flow of your teaching schedule – I mean drop everything – if a ministry need came up?
- What if your worship leader, while using their phone for lyrics, got a text that said their mom was in a terrible car accident?
- What if a volunteer leader didn’t show up for Sunday School because they had a seizure that morning?
- What if a student who has been struggling with depression & self-harm showed up for the first time in 2 months?
- What if someone – anyone – right in the middle of your introduction burst through the church doors weeping?
- What if something like this happens on Easter Sunday? Or Christmas Eve?
The Gospel is why we gather. Preaching MUST happen; careful preparation MUST happen; study, reading, praying, and writing MUST happen. The Word of God is too valuable to be casually approached.
But I wonder if we’re afraid to break stride? Would we be willing to put down our notes to pick up the weary? Could Isaiah 58 be allowed to breathe in our Planning Center print outs?