Columbia, SC 29205
One Service @ 10:30 AM
Riverside is a church of small groups. (I’m sure you’ve heard this before.) But more fundamentally, we’re a church of disciples. We band together, we live out our lives in Christ together, we make disciples together, and pretty much everything else—we do that together, too. But every (individual) disciple needs to rest. So does that mean we should rest together?
Yes and no.
Yes, we should talk as small groups about how we’re going to rest. Our small group leaders need vacations from leading. The (glorious, good, exhausting) grind of making disciples, caring for others, and organizing the group’s mission is . . . well, grinding. It takes a lot out of you to lead a community. And because we are not infinite, all-powerful, and all-knowing, every part of us needs a break. That’s good. That’s how we were created. That’s okay.
Of course, we’re called to weekly rhythms of Sabbath rest. But that’s not all that Scripture (particularly, the Old Testament) has to say about regular, scheduled seasons of rest. Maybe it’s surprising to consider the notion that, as some believe, the average Israelite farmer, scratching out an existence from the land through back-breaking, six-days-a-week work, averaged more days off than most white-collar workers today. Don’t believe me? Let’s do some math:
While Christ has fulfilled these ceremonial laws of the old covenant, should we expect that the One who calls us to find real rest in him (Matthew 11:28-30) would demand less rest than what was enjoyed under the former, inferior arrangement? Hardly! So yes, we should celebrate and plan real rest. And it sure seems like a good idea to do so in a regular rhythm that matches our culture’s recognition of the transition of warmer weather and school being out. Yes—let’s rest!
But why plan a rhythm of rest?
God loves us enough to give us rest for rest’s sake. But this self-care in the form of personal, family, and church “sabbath” has a purpose—to refresh our tired bodies and souls and empower us to take up the mission again once they’re over. The upward call to know Christ, love his church, and make disciples of all people never stops. We can’t fall into a trap of thinking resting from work means resting from God. Far be it from us to treat life with God as nothing more than a job! If that’s an offensive attitude toward our spouses, how much more disgusting is it to think of our relationship with God as an item on a to-do list, happily put on hold for months at a time? (For more on balancing rest and discipleship, I recommend this article for your consideration.)
Instead, we rest to work again. The work of making disciples, loving one another, and growing in Christ is hard. If we’re doing it right, it should leave us bone tired, bruised, and ready for rest. But while we wait for Christ to make all things new, fully and finally, our small groups should find rhythms that keep up the mission while also compassionately caring for the many who carry heavy burdens during the spring and fall.
What are some ways your group could change up its schedule to keep making disciples while enjoying godly rest? The options are too many to list (but that won’t keep me from giving it a shot!).
These three ideas can be tweaked, combined, or improved easily. They all recognize the flexibility of the summer season without neglecting the normal Christian life.
How are you resting this summer?