The Hard Stop

I’m used to sweating up until the service starts. And then sweating some more.

But worse than that, I'm used to starting a set of worship with a hurried, unsettled heart.

We've all been there, right? The mic isn't working, my monitor mix is off, I didn't have enough time to really learn the song, there's a strained relationship on the team, that drum fill still isn't working, my guitar is out of tune, I feel less connected to God than I'd like to, (insert whatever life circumstance is taxing you here), you know. Stuff.

And I'll often "settle in" to a connectedness to God and a comfort with the details of worship by the second song. Usually, anyway.

But this has been different.

We're coaching at a church plant, and one of the many things I love about new faith communities is that they are wonderfully idealistic. There's this sense of "We can do anything, anyway we choose!!" And there's no "we've never done it that way before" to smack the idea down.

From day one, they instituted "The Hard Stop" at 9:15. That means that all the setup teams just have to stop where they're at and come together for a time to pray.

And this is about 15-20 minutes of group prayer, like an honest to goodness prayer time. After which, we are free to begin greeting folks that arrive for the 10:00 service.

So far, because of technical difficulties, we have only been able to rehearse one song each week before this hard stop. And the worship team has been pretty heroic, because I'm pretty sure that the entire team has either very little or no worship team experience. And they've never used in ear monitors. Or clicks. And yet, we've stopped. Not comfortable. Not feeling ready. But stopping anyway.

One of the Sundays, I had been running around, sweating like a farm animal, when I sat down to pray with the rest of the teams.

We were led in a time of focus, laying down our stuff and receiving provision from the Lord, and as I slowed my soul down, I realized how often I don't start from this place. Oh sure, we almost always have a quick prayer no matter what church I'm leading at.

But by the time we head up to the stage to begin, we're pretty relaxed, centered, connected. It's literally resetting my soul.

So how would a hard stop go over at your church? I mean a hard stop long enough before the service for your soul to slow down, to connect with others, to commune with the Lord. Maybe 30-45 minutes?

It could be an opportunity to reprioritize.

It could be an opportunity to become more efficient.

It could be an opportunity to stay out of the "green room culture" and out with the congregation, more closely resembling Mary than Martha.

Sure, you're likely not at a church plant, so you have to implement a change like this with more steps. [I'd be glad to help you think through what that would look like for your context. Just reach out.]

But it'd be worth it!

- Dave