Today I preached in a church which has two morning services. One starts at 8:15, then the church has Sunday School at 9:30 and the second service at 10:45. My preaching duties include both services, but what do you do in the in-between times?
Unless you are teaching Sunday School (hard to imagine in addition to preaching two services), you have to come up with something to occupy your time between the services. Yes, I know you should pray some more and think about the message; but what else?
Here are some suggestions I thought about this morning during the in-between time:
• Have a snack scavenger hunt. Make the rounds of Sunday School classes to see who has the best snacks. I visited one youth class that had some pretty good pound cake, but I hit the jackpot with the young adult class that had leftovers from its Saturday fellowship. If you are going to go on a snack hunt, do it early in the Sunday School hour. Classes don’t like you slipping in halfway through the lesson to grab a Danish.
• Explore the pastor’s office. Because I was the visiting preacher and the pastor was gone, I had time to wander around and check out books, magazines and interesting pamphlets that were laying around on the tables. Pastors get lots of stuff in the mail, and when we don’t know what else to do with it, we lay it on a table for visiting preachers to discover.
Of course, if you are the pastor, then wandering your office won’t be nearly as interesting because you do that all week anyway. In that case, explore some staff member’s office. You’ll find that ministers of music have lots of interesting stuff on their tables, as well.
• Go heresy hunting. I have little doubt the average church has at least eight to 10 heretical statements uttered during Sunday School classes each week. Just camp in the hallway outside some classrooms and listen for the bizarre statements that find their way into many of the lessons. Bring your notebook—you may discover some sermon series that are needed in the near future.
• Play library mixup with the pastor. If you’re the visiting preacher, you can play a clever game in which you rearrange commentary sets on the shelves. Mixing up volumes of different commentary sets is too obvious; better to change the order within the sets, such as putting Luke in the middle of the prophets or putting Revelation in front of Genesis (thus making the Book of Genesis post-apocalyptic literature!). If you’re the pastor, you’ll have to content yourself with rearranging the music library.
Of course, if you invite me to come preach at your church, I promise not to do any of these things! OK, except for the snack scavenger hunt. In fact, I’ll leave you a map to the best snack classes.