I have never read an article on the topic of weather and the Church so I think it is time one pastor spoke up. This past Sunday morning at 4:30 am I heard the rain and ice beating against my window. I went and looked outside to see the conditions and then checked the weather app on my phone. Ugly weather with ice was the forecast. I might as well have gotten up then because my sleep was interrupted a dozen times with each sound as I checked the window and my phone.
Let me tell you straight up, even if it means a Sunday off, every pastor I know hates bad weather weekends. Let me tell you why:
1. Canceling Church is a high stress decision. We only get 52 Sundays a year. Every Pastor understands the importance of each worship meeting. Missing one is a hard call because you can’t just make it up at a later date. I usually consult 6-8 people to get their insights.
2. There is a lot to consider. Many people just tell me to have a program and whoever shows up will be blessed. Well, it is not that simple. My first concern is people’s safety. We have several senior adults and I would hate for them to get out in bad conditions. Some will try if they know we are having Church. My second concern is for the program we will offer. Gone are the days when a piano and a preacher were all you needed. We need people to run the sound and PowerPoint. We need people to play music and lead it. We need nursery and children’s lessons. We are a Church of around 165 people on an average Sunday and we need about 20 people to make everything happen. In bad weather I wonder if everyone will be able to make it happen. One missing piece can equal disaster.
3. Canceling Church does not equal a free week off. Canceling one Sunday equals a couple extra days of work and often a week of work lost. This is true for me at least. I have every Sunday planned in detail for 6 month and planned in part for another 6 months. These plans include holidays and special events. Every week is put together with a bigger picture in mind. When I cancel a Sunday I have to replan everything. For example, this Sunday was Valentine’s Day. I had a special sermon planned with gifts for a few married couples. If we canceled, I can’t just preach it the next week. If I did move it back I would have to replan my Flannel Graph Jesus series that is starting next Sunday and leading up to Easter. Do you cancel a sermon on marriage or Jesus? Hum … tough call.
4. Canceling Church kills momentum. Having a small worship program usually does the same. When a sermon series is going well and people are excited about Church one bad Sunday throws everything off. Thankfully with the internet my sermon can still be posted for people to listen to later, but it is not the same. Also, for some Churches one Sunday without an offering is devastating.
5. Personally, I hate not having Church. I love Sunday mornings. I love the fellowship, the singing, the learning and communion. I want to be at worship if it is humanly possible. But I know there is far more to consider than just my own personal feelings.
Throughout my 20 plus years of ministry I have had to cancel Church about a dozen times. Each time has been a hard decision to make on every level. Thankfully this past Sunday we were able to have a later program and several people showed up. Hopefully that will be the last bad Sunday of this winter, but I know more days will lie ahead. I still pray they are a long way off.