For many pastors the Monday after July 4th is a very depressing day. That is the day when countless pastors feel the most abandoned by God and by the congregation. Though the reasoning is not clear, it seems that we pastors, from the day we say "Yes" to God's call, associate His blessing on our life with the size of the crowd and the offering on Sundays...which is why many pastors want to quit the Monday after the fourth of July!
What happens when July 4th falls on a Sunday?
Every time the 4th of July falls on a Sunday, churches all across America experience the lowest attendance of the entire year. After all, it is the peak of the summer break and most families choose to finally take that weekend and do something they have not done all summer; get away! That may be a good thing for the family, but it is usually a bad event for a pastor. Let's contemplate what some pastors may have felt after this Sunday's service.
1. Pastor Chris: Having studied all week on the message of freedom from strongholds, he was very excited to deliver a message he felt was exactly the Lord's heart for the church. However, when he got to the service, there were only 13 people at the start of praise and worship and by the time he stepped into the pulpit, there were only 15. Trying not to appear disturbed and angry, he preached the message while the entire time hoping it would end so he could go home and moan all day. The message ended and he did not do an alter call. After all, it was the same people week after week...just less of them today. "They don't need an alter call; they need to get busy and win the lost. What's the matter with these people?"
My thoughts on Pastor Chris: These thoughts were more magnified in Pastor Chris' mind this past Sunday because it fell on the 4th of July. God knew exactly how many would come on Sunday, yet He still gave Pastor Chris that message. Maybe, it was God's way of showing him some of his own strongholds. Pastor Chris equates God's love for him by Sunday church attendance.
2. Pastor Livingston: He works a full time job and pastors the church. It is his hope that one day in the near future he can leave his secular job and go full time into the ministry. The size of Sunday's crowd, combined with the size of the offering, took Pastor Livingston down a journey of self pity magnified by the ceaseless torment of a dying dream that one day he would stand in the pulpit as a full time servant of the Most High. This Sunday was as far as he would ever be from that dream. It rivaled the first days of the church when he and his wife would celebrate 6 in attendance. Now, 6 are not enough. "If the goal is to be reached there must be at least 60 in attendance every Sunday! Not even close this Sunday! Where is God when I need Him?"
My thoughts on Pastor Livingston: Pastor Livingston's thoughts are not unique! In fact, every pastor of a nondenominational blend will have to journey the halls of dying dreams (not just believing God for a full time ministry) and come out the other side, if they are ever to become effective. When the tithes and offerings and the size of the crowd reach annual lows, a colossal set of thoughts flood the minds of pastors, and chief among them is the thought of quitting. "Why should I sacrifice so much of my life trying to pastor a church, when I could be on the lake enjoying my family, life, and career?"
A cure for the common thought
The agony of July 5th has a cure that can be administered by one question and one phrase. The Lord Himself asks the question: "Am I enough for you?" What if the Lord chooses to not give you any more than what you already have? Is His presence enough for you? Forget the burnished pulpit and copious resources that come with large crowds. Lay aside the dreams and answer this. Is His presence enough?
Once answered, you can feel free to ponder the phrase. It is ecclesiastical entrepreneurism. "What? I have never heard of it." Let me explain! While many pastors decide to take the summer as a time to check out, I take it as a sign to prepare for growth. When things get quiet in the ministry, make some of your own noise using your gifts and talents.