For as long as I can remember, I have heard the Sunday challenge to be a world-changer on Monday. Somehow my pastor knew that I (and apparently others) could be tempted to separate those two days, Sunday and Monday, as though one was for God and the other could be guided by my agenda. Over time, I would even hear about people who did that–who somehow seemed to be different people at church than they seemed to be the remainder of the week.
I suppose that temptation is understandable on some level. After all, Sundays aren’t like Mondays. We do very different things. Sundays we gather in buildings that can be left dormant every other day. Sunday we sing, and in many cases they are songs we never find on our car radios on Monday. Sunday we face challenging messages that few would take time for on a busy Monday. Sunday is a day to be among a very different crowd than what Monday offers too. In fact, even if we still sacrificed farm animals in our worship, I’m not sure Sundays could be any more different from Mondays than they already seem to be.
Some churches have accepted this faith and maximized it. They seek to make Sunday an extraordinary experience–a once in a lifetime moment that carries its participants to an extraordinary escape from the mundane realities that await them on Monday. And such remarkable efforts often yield the desired result, a church building fuller than most as hundreds of religious consumers do their Sunday thing before the Monday that gets here all too early.
Now, don’t read cynicism into that last paragraph. There’s no eye roll and my tongue isn’t “in cheek” as I reflect on such things. It’s just that I wonder at the disconnect between some of our ideas of the Church and what I seem to see in the New Testament. You see, the Early Church didn’t seem so quick to separate their acts of worship from their daily lives. Maybe that’s because they gathered almost daily in the temple to learn more of the apostles’ teaching. Or maybe it’s because they knew that theirs was a marketplace assignment, that perfect Sunday attendance pins weren’t the ultimate goal. It seems that the Church was originally designed for powerful Mondays, Tuesdays, and the four or five other days that showed up each week on their Franklin planners.
A couple of years ago, in the middle of teaching a group of church leaders about healthy church behavior, the thought struck me, “If Sunday is the week’s most powerful day for your local church, then you might not be a healthy church.” Yeah. That seemed to capture what I’d been trying to say to those friends and several other such groups over the previous few years. Christians shouldn’t just be the same folks on Monday as they are on Sunday, like I’d been taught since childhood. Christians should be greater, doing those “greater things” that Jesus talked about, on Monday through Saturday. Frankly, if we get more of God’s work done on Sunday than any other day, aren’t we a bit off target?
Imagine the potential of our entire church family spread out across our city in offices and factories and grocery stores and neighborhoods, all demonstrating the love we’ve been given and the power it packs for life change in places other than the church building. We hear Jesus say that we would do “greater things” than He did and we decide that He must have meant quantity, rather than quality since its tough to top raising the dead. But how valuable is such a promise if we wait for Sunday to try to live in it?
Truth is, Sunday should be about two things–equipping us for the life we’re called to live on Mondays and celebrating the remarkable things Jesus did through us during the past week. Sundays shouldn’t be our primary “harvest” moments, but the time when what’s been harvested all week long is brought together for rejoicing. Now there’s something to sing about!
So the question we’re left with as church leaders is, “do you see Sundays as the centerpiece of your church’s week or is it a training ground for the real days of impact in the week ahead?” My fear is that as long as we are all about Sundays, we will teach our people to compartmentalize their relationship with God until the “big day” too. Yes, God changes us on Sunday. He speaks into our lives and gathers our responses to His challenging word. But it’s Monday through Saturday where we can really change the world.