Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pre-Church Funk

I got only five hours of sleep the night before, only to be awoken by my toddler son crying to be picked up at 5:00 am. The caffeine in the coffee doesn't seem to be working. I'm reminded when I go into the garage that my car needs fixing. It's one of those days where crawling back into bed seems like the best idea.

Sounds like it's time to gather as a church.

Maybe I'm the only pastor who experiences the pre-church funk, but I doubt I'm alone in this. It seems like right before a Sunday morning or a Wednesday night gathering, I consistently need an attitude check. Often, and sometimes for no apparent reason, I'm tired or I'm apathetic or I'm too critical or I don't want to talk to anyone or I'm stressed.

When I'm in the pre-church funk, I have to remember a few critical truths:

This isn't about me, it's about Jesus. The Gospel is the most important message in the world, even on days when I don't feel like getting out of bed. Yes, I need to fully acknowledge and be present to my emotions. But if those emotions aren't based in reality, or if they're simply selfish and sinful, then I need to confess those, repent, and move on. The Gospel is too critical to allow my funk to distract from it.

This isn't about my strength, it's about the Holy Spirit strengthening me. Regardless if my attitude is positive or negative, if I'm only relying upon myself to do ministry, then I've already missed the point. Perhaps the pre-church funk is just a good reminder that I desperately need God to transform lives--including my own--because I can't.

Consider spiritual warfare. I'm not the kind of guy who automatically jumps here, but there might be more going on in the spiritual realm than your pre-church funk. This could be Satan's attempts to distract from what God is going to do in and through you today. It could also just be the results of eating three bowls of ice cream right before bed the night before. It could be both.

There is always tomorrow. Today's youth group might be terrible. Worship might feel like a waste of time, your teaching might completely suck, your volunteers might not show up. But we can't evaluate the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the short term. This spiritual growth thing is about the long haul. There will be good days and bad days, but keeping the kingdom in the forefront of your mind makes the bad days feel less significant.

Anyone ever felt this, whether you're a pastor or not? How do you handle the pre-church funk?


  1. Joel,

    I'm right there with you man! As a youth pastor for the last 10 years, I am constantly struggling with this.
    The only way that I get through it is to realize that God gives us a new day. I do not respond to things when I am tired, grumpy, critical etc, until I have slept on it.

    Usually, the next day the emotions are gone and I am over it.

    I do like your list and am glad that I'm not the only one that feels this way!

  2. yeah! know it all to well, especially when I'm in a conflict with my wife... arg!!

    great list!

  3. I feel this often. I told Brian at the last children's event that I hate church events. This came out of a tired mom that longed for the help of her husband but had to be a one man show because of his role in the church. I know I didn't mean it and I know he is stressed enough with the events of the evening but sometimes I just get in that funk of being a lone ranger pastor's wife. Somedays I long for driving to church as a family without having to carry in a child by myself or waiting around just to "see" my husband on Sunday. I wouldn't trade it for anything though.

  4. Joel, I'm right there with you. In my case, I imagine part of it comes with being an introvert. I'm not big on crowds and lots of activity going on around me so I think I start dreading Sunday mornings and youth group nights as I think ahead to how drained I will be by the end. Of course, 9 times out of 10 I am also thankful at the end for the experience. Your suggestions for getting in the right frame of mind about this are very helpful.

  5. Sounds like this hits a nerve, and not just with pastors, but with their families as well (Tirsa, I know Katie has felt the same frustration with being married to a pastor). For those who've commented--and those who are feeling the same, but haven't shared--hang in there, and know that you're not alone in those feelings.