What to do with the Extra Hour today?
You might be reading this on the first Sunday in November when most Americans turn back their clocks one hour to end Daylight Saving Time.
Online, the jokes are all really funny this weekend, aren’t they? For instance:
- Don’t get to church an hour early! The first service will just be getting out! The horror!
- Don’t forget to fall back–your extra hour of sleep can be at home rather than during the sermon!
- Remember to Fall Back or else you’ll beat the pastor to church!
- Remember to turn back your clocks or Starbucks won’t be open when you get there before church.
Ah, these are funny. I see a lot of pastors and official church accounts warning people–in humorous ways–of the horror of showing up at church an hour early.
They have a common theme: that hour you gain is for sleep or activity, not for church. Right? Right?
An Extra Hour…
Personally, I hope people do show up an hour early at my church…it will be to their benefit!
Imagine what they could do at my church alone…here’s some stream-of-consciousness ideas:
- Sit and chat with the elderly choir spouses who dutifully wait while their partner warms up and practices with the adult choir before worship.
- Stand at the corner of the parking lot and wave at people as they arrive.
- Sit in a Sunday School class. We have several, catered to different types of adults in different stages of life.
- Intern for an hour with the Ushers, Greeters, Communion preparers, flower preparers, even the Acolyte coordinator to learn a new role.
- Sit in the chapel and pray through this week’s prayer list or a membership directory.
- Sit in the chapel and do nothing–no smartphone, no reading, just enjoying an hour of relative quiet in a traditional space.
- Walk around the church property a few times, taking note of signage that may not be the most helpful to newcomers. Make constructive suggestions.
- Greet people as they get off the mass transit (in our case, a subway), just to be friendly.
- Relax in the library and read a theological, biblical, or cultural book for an hour.
- Tidy up and Organize the stockroom for the children’s Sunday School.
- Sketch a picture of the sanctuary or someplace on the church plant.
- Phone a church friend or parent of a friend and meet for coffee–onsite or offsite.
- Take pictures of the bulletin liturgy or inspirational hymns and tweet them out as morning inspiration for your networks.
- Pick up trash around the neighborhood, not on church property. Just around.
- Edit for grammar and spelling a perpetual church publication (small groups guide, etc), and gently leave it for someone to (maybe) make the corrections.
- Talk to people coming out of the early service who you may not get to chat with normally.
- Ask the custodian if there’s anything you can do that morning.
In my own church, there’s a ton of things people can do in service, study, or fellowship with an extra hour on a Sunday morning in typical Sunday apparel.
And if those are all options–all viable options today–then the real horror might set in for us all:
What if this was possible every week?
…For The Ones
The Extra Hour may be a horror or a source of social anxiety, but if applied week after week, I believe it has transformative power.
I’ve written before about the problem of the Ones: folks who only participate in only one activity in that faith community.
For most churches, The Ones are folks who only attend worship services and otherwise do not participate in other parts of the church. The best of them worship once a week, give a tithe, welcome visitors, and usher or assist with that worship service in some way. They may participate fully in that one activity, but they do not participate in any other aspect of the church, such as Sunday School classes, service events, or even social outings.
But we are doing people spiritual disservice when we allow them to stay in their one activity. When people participate in two aspects of a faith community, they are able to bring different parts of themselves to their spirituality. It’s not just a difference between broadcast spirituality (worship) and interactive spirituality (education, service, witness). Rather, they are able to apply their faith in a faith context, which makes it easier to apply their faith in secular contexts. Even for those who attend service events and not worship, imagine how fulfilling their service would be with the week’s message as a conversation partner.
Imagine how much more you’ll get out of that worship service with an extra hour of something else…even on the same trip.
My hope is that today’s extra hour can be seen as a gift of experience: a chance to try something new with your day and to make Sunday feel a bit different.
You may be getting this after worship is over–or reading it later at night as it spreads across the interwebs. That’s fine–you didn’t miss your chance! Because there’s always next week when you can choose whether you can re-prioritize an hour of your day to serve, study, sit in fellowship, or just experience something new that day.
- Am I being a curmudgeon that thinks an extra hour doing church or church-approximate activities each week would do most people good?
- What’s on your list of “things to do” that any person could just walk in on a Sunday and do?
Thanks for reading and your shares on social media.