By Tom Nelson
“If there is a mist in the pulpit there is a fog in the pew.” I heard those words more than once in my seminary homiletics class when my professor wanted to drive home the high importance of sermon clarity. What I didn’t hear my professor talk about was what happens if there is not just a mist in the pulpit, but instead a thick fog. What does that mean for a congregation?
I am not sure I fully know the impact, but a thick pastoral fog cannot be a good recipe for congregational flourishing. This fog is especially apparent in the gap between Sunday morning worship and Monday morning work. I have become increasingly convinced in both my own personal experience as well as in my conversations with many pastoral colleagues that the Sunday to Monday Gap is wider and more prominent than we care to admit. An inconvenient truth is that some of our more thoughtful congregants have a more clear perspective of their work as worship than their fog-shrouded pastors.
I see at least four very perilous congregational consequences resulting from a wide Sunday to Monday gap.
First, if our congregations see Sunday morning as the primary time when they worship God and do not recognize that what they do on Monday morning is also prime-time worship, then our good and great Triune God, who is worthy of worship, receives a puny and impoverished worship from his new covenant people.
Second, if our congregations see their spiritual formation as primarily something they do on Sunday or reserved for a spiritual discipline they do during the week, then their spiritual formation into greater Christlikeness is greatly hindered and often stunted. The work we do every day, whether we are paid for it or not, is one of the primary means the Holy Spirit uses to conform us to greater Christlikeness. We shape our work and our work shapes us.
Third, if our congregations are not equipped to connect Sunday to Monday, then the plausibility of our Gospel witness is less persuasive or convincing. It is in and through our daily work that others observe the Gospel’s transforming truth and power lived out both in the quality of the work and the attitudinal way we perform it. It is in the rich plausibility of vocational faithfulness and common grace that saving grace finds fertile soil.
Fourth, if our congregations are not equipped to connect Sunday to Monday, then the proclamation of the Gospel is muted and muffled. Since many of our congregants spend a great deal of time each week in their workplaces, it is there where Gospel witness in word and in deed finds its greatest opportunity and transformational impact. A primary Gospel work of the church is the church at work.
Do we see the grave peril of the Sunday to Monday gap? Do we realize that the worthy worship of God, the spiritual formation of congregations, the plausibility of the Gospel, and the proclamation of the Gospel are on the line?
As a national pastoral network, Made to Flourish is committed to shining light through this fog and narrowing the Sunday to Monday Gap. Is there a mist or a fog in your pulpit? Are you interested in narrowing the gap? We can help. You can apply to join the Made to Flourish pastors’ network here. If you know of other pastors who would benefit from the resources, collaboration, and support of the network, please invite them to join.
Originally published at Made to Flourish.