Do You Take a Sabbath?

Jared Massey —  June 30, 2011

Six AM waking up in the morning, gotta get dressed, gotta go to church. Gotta have my ‘bux, getting on a roll, Checking everything, the time is going. Tickin’ on and on, I’m the one rushing. I just don’t have the time to, stop. Service is a bust, when will it end?

(That kid’s) Kickin’ in the front seat. Pinching in the back seat. I’ve made my mind up, can I get a break?

It’s Sunday, Sunday, no time to rest on Sunday. I’m so busy on the weekends, weekends. Sunday, Sunday, no worship on Sunday. I’ve got too much ministry to do on the weekend.

Yesterday I worked on, church stuff. Today it is church day, work day. All the kids are so excited, they so excited. They’re gonna have a ball today. Tomorrow starts the work week and guess what comes afterwards, the weekend starts all over again.  (If Rebecca Black were a Children’s Ministry Volunteer)

Sure, weekends are great when you’re a kid or teenager, but then you grow up and you have all kinds of responsibilities. Not only do you work during the week, you’ve volunteered at your church on Sundays. And everybody knows, that volunteering on Sundays requires prep work during the week. Because of your hectic schedule during the week, you’ve reserved Saturdays for catching up on work around the house and getting ready for Sundays. It sounds like a good plan, until you hear a kidmin leader start talking about the need to take a Sabbath. “Everyone in church leadership should dedicate one day a week away from the ministry.”

Now this puts you in a major dilemma. Sundays are your Sabbath day from work, but if you work at the church, can it really qualify? And you cannot take a day off during the week because you work another job. You could potentially dedicate one evening a week where you don’t do church work, but the Bible is pretty clear that the Sabbath is supposed to be a day. You’re pretty much left with three options. Quit your income providing job (you know, the one that feeds your kids and keeps the lights on), quit volunteering at church (which would leave your pastor in a bind), or ignore God’s command. What do you do?

We’re all about giving practical advice here on this blog, and I’d love to tell you what the right answer is, but I’m not so sure I even know. I’m juggling work, church, and family too. In fact, I’m not sure there is a right answer that fits every mold and I think this post really deserves more conversation than, “this is what you should do.” I’ll do a follow up post later, assuming there are enough comments to really get a good grasp of what people are already doing. Until then, I really want you to join the conversation.

Here’s some questions to get the party started.

Do you have a plan for how you take a Sabbath? Do you feel as if the Sabbath no longer applies to the New Testament Christian? What does “Sabbath” mean to you? Are you currently not doing anything, but feel as if you should?

Jared Massey

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Jared is the associate pastor at Warsaw Assembly of God in Warsaw, IL where his primary responsibilities include children's and youth ministries. He also works full time during the week at local bank. He is married to his high school sweetheart and they have one son.

9 responses to Do You Take a Sabbath?

  1. hi jared – great question! i’ve been trying to take off fridays – and, it is definitely not easy. but, in order to do it, i’ve been starting earlier and working later mon-thurs to make up for not working friday. of course, that may not work for all – but it’s a good start towards sabbath for me!

  2. We’ve always had Fridays off. That meant the office was closed, but I often checked email from home. I was never really good at disconnecting from work — even when I was not working, my mind was still constantly working.

    Especially being Jewish, you’d think I’d “get” the Sabbath more than I do. But it’s been a struggle, as I write here:

  3. Great article, as always, Jared! Here’s my two cents, and anyone is welcome to correct my theology if I am wrong, because I have not thoroughly researched this issue. I think that’s enough disclaimers. 🙂

    The Sabbath day was prescribed in the Old Testament. Jesus came as the fulfillment of the law. Furthermore, we’re all incapable of keeping the law, and the law served primarily to make us aware of our sinfulness. Accordingly, I’m not certain that the Sabbath (as a day) is still a mandate. If it were, is it Sunday, Saturday, any day? There are a multitude of questions. I think though, that like the rest of the law, God gave us the Sabbath as an idea and as something that He knows would be best for us. Put another way, I believe it is God’s will that we do have some sort of Sabbath rest not just to rejuvenate ourselves, but to focus on Him and all that He has done for us. I believe that what form that takes, and when it is, will vary by individual.

    So, what do I mean? You and I can’t rest during the week (we have jobs). We can’t rest on Sunday because that’s church. Saturday becomes a day to run errands and get things done. That’s a problem! But, I can take a Tuesday night and say, I’m turning off the Iphone and the TV. I’m not working on Sunday’s lesson. I am going to eat with my family and play games with them. We can set aside a couple of hours on Thursday night or early on a weekday morning for reading or whatever other quiet time activity we enjoy. I think the point is not when, or that it needs to be an entire day, but that God knows that if we do not schedule a Sabbath and guard that time, we will likely not take one.

    One word of caution though – it is also very easy to become legalistic about our Sabbath. Suppose we have set aside Tuesday night. We wouldn’t want to ignore a brother in dire need just because he happened to call on a Tuesday afternoon. We would ignore him (or schedule it for another time) if he just wanted to get together or start a Bible study.

    That’s my two cents (maybe three)!

  4. I’m not saying you’re right or wrong Wayne (at least, not yet), but I want to challenge with this. As Joey can probably attest, the Sabbath was a BIG DEAL to God in the Old Testament. He talked about it a lot and the punishment was severe. Can we, as New Testament Christians, just brush that aside?

    There is a key point that Joey mentioned in the post he linked to, but I’m waiting for it to come up here.

    Oh, and I saw what you did there. “turn off the Iphone” Pretty happy with that huh? (Not that it is a bad thing, just giving you a hard time.)

    • No doubt that the Sabbath was, and is, a big deal to God. I would never suggest that we “brush it aside.” God provides His law because he knows what it best for His people. I am suggesting that we follow the principal of the law rather than the precept of the law. I believe that is what you are trying to do. They are good questions to ask. How do I take a Sabbath which glorifies God and which he tells me is good for me? Wrestle with it. That is a healthy tension.

  5. Barbara Graves July 17, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    I’m late to the party on this conversation, but I thought I’d throw my penny’s worth in, as well. I think I fall somewhere inbetween everyone all ready on here. I agree that the whole “law” stuff is pretty much shot for us because we can’t keep it, and it’s hopeless to try, but the fulfillment of that law, and the purpose behind those laws, is still applicable. We NEED a Sabbath. We NEED to rest, physically. And we NEED to spend time reflecting on God and our relationship with Him.

    But I also think we need to find a span of time that is a close to a full day as we can get. Not because it’s a legal requirement, but because it takes that long to wind down, turn off your brain, focus on God and recharge.

    With working all week and serving on Sundays, the challenge comes to see if you can set aside Saturdays to rest. I have tried, when I worked full time outside ministry, to schedule errands for a week night, spread housework out over 3 or 4 evenings, and leave Sat as a day of rest. It makes a lot of work during the week, but you can have a day for family that doesn’t involve cleaning house and doing laundry and buying groceries. It worked about once every 3 weeks. 🙂

  6. I know this post was written almost two months ago, but it really struck a chord with me as the idea of “rest” has really been challenging me lately. I’ve written two blog posts since in response if you’re interested in hearing my personal thoughts on the ideas of the Sabbath – Post 1: and Post 2:

  7. Like many I too work 2 jobs my Monday to Friday job, my church job and also school. I try to keep most of Sat church free but like others that does not always work. I do have one great committee member who has taken it upon herself to try to cover both services one Sunday a month so I can attend worship and Sunday school if I wish or take a weekend trip to see family.