One of the first discoveries I made as a pastor is that Sunday’s always coming.
If you’re a pastor, you know exactly what I mean. In one sense, Sunday is a repeated deadline—for sermon preparation, ministry details, and administrative obligations. And as soon as you pass the deadline, Monday morning rolls around, and the clock resets.
Of course, that’s not all that Sunday is—a deadline.
Ideally, our focus as pastors on Sunday is primarily a day for corporate worship of God and preaching His Word to needy, hungry hearts.
So what can a pastor do to balance the tension between the reality of the Sunday deadline with the desire for a prepared heart and spirit to worship with God’s people?
Here are several suggestions:
1. Study throughout the week.
Your primary ministry as a pastor is “prayer and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). If you wait until Friday night or Saturday morning to begin your sermon preparation, you will not only feel stressed, but your sermons may be biblically anemic, filled with surface applications. Beginning your sermon preparation early in the week, however, allows you to saturate your mind in the passage you will be preaching, provides time for thorough study, and allows the Holy Spirit to guide you in biblically-grounded applications for those in your congregation.Beginning your sermon preparation early in the week allows you to saturate your mind in the passage, provides time for thorough study, and allows the Holy Spirit to guide you in biblically-grounded applications for those in your… Click To Tweet
2. Pray for your church family during the week.
The prayer closet is where a pastor’s heart is formed. As you pray for your church family by name, your role as a pastor becomes something far more than an job with duties of preaching, counseling, and administrating. It becomes an opportunity to serve people you love. Additionally, I find that as I pray for our church family, the Lord lays specific people on my heart to reach out to throughout the week. As I obey these promptings, I often discover needs or burdens I’m able to help carry.The prayer closet is where a pastor’s heart is formed. Click To Tweet
3. Take a weekday off.
Sunday is not a true day off for pastors. So take a weekday off to spend time refueling not only spiritually, but also physically, relationally, and emotionally. Get exercise. Spend time with your family. Replenish.
4. Finish office details by Saturday afternoon.
For many years, it has been the practice of our family to keep Saturday evening free as much as possible. I find that if I’m working late on administrative details into Saturday night or scrambling to put together meetings for upcoming events, my mind is not clear heading into Sunday.
5. Follow up on your outreach list and contacts.
Whether it is a visit, text, or call, Saturday afternoon is a great time to reach out to prospects who earlier in the week committed to attend this Sunday.
6. Review order of service and announcements.
Our songs for Sunday are chosen early in the week, and the order of service is usually settled by Thursday or Friday. But I review these Saturday afternoon, especially in light of my now-finished sermon. Occasionally, I’ll make a change. But either way, it helps me to look them over again ahead of Sunday.
7. Reconcile any issue with God or others.
If the Holy Spirit has been convicting you of sin, if there is unresolved conflict between you and your family or anyone else, reconcile those issues before Sunday. Don’t go into the pulpit Sunday morning with unconfessed sin or ongoing relational conflicts and expect to preach God’s Word in the power of His Spirit. Humble yourself before God and others to make things right, and expect to preach with an outpouring of His grace (1 Peter 5:4–6).Don’t go into the pulpit Sunday morning with unconfessed sin or ongoing relational conflicts and expect to preach God’s Word in the power of His Spirit. Click To Tweet
8. Review messages.
In my Saturday night message review, I’m not racing to find new cross references or add in illustrations. I’ve done that throughout the week. I’m just prayerfully going over the message, allowing the Holy Spirit to preach it to me and to cement the progression of thoughts in my mind and heart.
9. Quiet your mind.
I’m a Type A person with my mind constantly spinning, often in several directions. There are times and places when this can be a strength. But there are also times and places when it can be a liability. I have found that if I will obey the admonition of Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God,” on Saturday evening, I enter Sunday with a renewed awe of God. And that is the perspective I want to bring into Sunday morning’s worship.I have found that if I will obey the admonition of Psalm 46:10 on Saturday evening, I enter Sunday with a renewed awe of God. Click To Tweet
10. Rest Saturday night.
No pastor can predict Saturday night emergencies. But we can all do our best to plan a Saturday evening that includes getting to bed early enough for several hours of sleep. Without a doubt, I have a sharper mind after it has been reset with a good night’s sleep.
Sunday is a gift for every child of God, including pastors. It is a gift of corporate worship, fellowship, and the preaching of God’s Word.
Yes, Sunday does have some unique pressures for pastors. But when you approach the day with a prepared heart, life, and messages, it is a day to rejoice in God’s greatness and His willingness to use you as an undershepherd for His flock.
Sunday is a gift for every child of God, including pastors. Ten ways to be ready to receive that gift as a pastor... Click To Tweet
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.—1 Peter 5:2–4