Rhythm of Rest
By Austin & Adrienne Evans
In our extremely busy world, taking the time to rest isn’t necessarily affirmed or applauded. Our generation especially is expected to do all of the things and be all of the things, keeping up with the world around us and to take on the anthem of go, go, go!
“No rest for the weary!” “Can’t stop, won’t stop.”
The truth? With all of this pressure to say yes to everything and keep up with the world around us, our missional community noticed that people are not taking the time to truly rest.
As a part of the Butler Tarkington missional community, many men and women within our group are leaders and influencers in their respective professional spheres. But, MC quickly became just like all of the other mandatory events - checking the box, showing up tired and then moving onto the next thing. Even our MC, which is designed to be a place of rest, relaxation and richly doing life with one another - became a place where we all left feeling more drained and tired than when we first showed up.
In addition to not being fully rested, many people carried their distractions, stresses and personal frustrations into our weekly gathering space without getting a chance to really disconnect and be present.
First, we started with a Sabbatical. When we joined the MC upon moving to the Butler Tarkington neighborhood, the leaders were quick to admit that they were absolutely exhausted. So, in the summer of 2017, we called off all weekly MC meetings and gathered as a leadership team for 12 weeks to rest and restructure. During this time, we all began to practice a deeper sense of rest. All of us felt fully alive and rested, and were therefore able to create new visions of what a healthy and restful MC would look like for our group at large.
Coming back fully rejuvenated, we had many new ideas; one being to tithe monthly to pay for a babysitter. This allowed the members who had children to be present and rest as they fully engaged our MC. There was no obligation, whatsoever, just as much or as little as you wanted to give.
We then created ten to fifteen minutes at the beginning of our group gathering where we specifically spent time in silence and solitude with the Lord, working through distractions that might cause us stress. It was also a space and place to breathe and get our hearts to a good spot individually, before diving into conversations with our brothers and sisters.
Next, we went through the church-wide survey to see how much of our church struggled with Sabbathing. After seeing the similar results in our own MC, we decided to do a quarterly series on “Sabbath”. We read, studied, and practiced “The Rest of God” by Mark Buchanan. It was proven to be a very fruitful conversation!
We also worked through some of the following liturgies from the book during discussion nights:
What difference does it make in your heart to thank God for the work of your hands? Does thanksgiving shift anything in your attitude/perspective toward your work? Towards rest?
Does the path I’m walking lead to a place I want to go? If I keep heading this way, will I like where I arrive? If not, ask God to help you “change your mind.”
Spend a day paying attention. Ask God to reveal himself to you through the day. What do you notice? What grabs your attention? What fills vs. empties your heart?
Do you play enough? Why or why not? How does play affect you and impact you?
As this message of Sabbathing was heavy on our hearts, we took the practice of Sabbath to another level. We gathered a group of guys from our MC for an entire day to Sabbath at the end of the year. The day started with a workout, to care for our bodies physically, had a restful breakfast and morning as we reflected back on the year, looked up as we engaged in worship, and looked forward for wisdom in this upcoming year.
The outcome from Sabbathing that we have seen from both our study and practice are the following things:
People are less distracted and more present, which creates a deeper sense of intimacy.
People are coming to MC less tired because they are taking these practices and building them into their daily lives.
People leave our MC feeling alive and filled and therefore consistently being present at every meeting.
So, what’s next? We are hopeful to build more accountability into our existing discipleship groups on Sabbathing together so that people continue to build this more regularly into their everyday.
Do you want to join together with others in your MC to practice the Sabbath in a practical way? Here are some ideas.
Start Small - Maybe just create 10 minutes at the start of your MC like we do to ask and work through the question: “What distractions are you carrying with you into MC that you need to let go of to be present?”
Considering pulling together funds from your MC to pay for a full-time babysitter to prioritize giving kids the attention they need while also allowing parents to have space where they can be re-energized.
Survey your own MC to find out what their feelings are at your MC and what you can collectively do as a group to give them rest.
Use the “Rest of God” book to do your own quarterly study and practice within your MC.
Peace (and rest),
Austin and Adrienne Evans