In the world of relationships the phrase "taking a break" is usually a bad thing, at least for one of the parties involved...but in my church relationship, taking a break from lay ministry is, for the time being, a good thing.
Our team of lay ministers had been front and center in our congregation, either as assisting ministers or preachers, pretty much nonstop for the past couple of years. With the arrival of our pastoral intern, we had to rethink the schedule; for the first couple of weeks we found ourselves trying to lead worship with an awkward trio of pastor, intern and lay assistant, something that felt like much of a muchness in our small, MOTR/down-the-candle congregation. And then one lay-preaching Sunday one of the other lay ministers delivered a sermon that was so -- well, without going into details, I'll just say, as a stunned listener in the pew, that it was not a good day for anyone, especially a hapless visitor, to have attended the service expecting a sermon compatible with Lutheran theology and comforting/edifying to the faithful -- that at our next lay ministry meeting our pastor basically called a lay ministry time out, at least in terms of sermonating, for all of us for the near future.
My response? Relief. I'm tired, even with our relatively relaxed one-Sunday-on, three-Sundays-off rota. Especially in this past year when I was recovering from my seizure, sometimes not feeling steady on my pins or comfortable preparing for whatever the day entailed, this modest schedule was still a burden, especially if one of the other players needed a substitute on a given Sunday. It's also nice, frankly, to be able to sit in the pew with my partner and simply experience worship without having to lead it, especially now that we have a new voice and perspective in the pulpit.
I'm still our congregation's Facebook editor, a job that I spend, I think, a good hour on every day just providing some daily content to keep our page fresh and informative, and I'm happy doing that. We seem to have about 55 frequent fliers out of 167 "Likes," which I think is great considering our congregation's general lack of access to the Internet.
In the meantime, I'm rethinking my role in lay ministry -- not rethinking it all that hard, but wondering what the term "lay minister" even means, or at least what it means for me at this point in my life. It's never been all that defined in our congregation. Is it something that is useful to others and satisfying to me to a degree that makes me want to continue to be one? I don't know. But at least I have a hiatus in which to think about it. And to do other things.