In praise of rotas


Today’s the day I clear my desk for a couple of hours to work out the service rota for the next four months – those leading services, preaching, taking the intercessions and reading the Bible.  An important task.

It’s like playing three-dimensional chess – I even have a bishop! (Bishop Cyril on Sunday, 27 May at 6.30 pm).  And it is just as intellectually draining.   I will need a holiday to recover!

Christ Church runs on rotas.  For example, I note from the photocopying and typing rota prepared by Lesley Smith that these notices are being desktop published later today by Karen Coppelov and photocopied tomorrow by Alan Arthur.  Thank you, folks.

I am sure that there are rotas I am unaware of while totally new rotas are being produced, especially as the Ministry Centre develops.  I note that this month John Raynor has begun to produce a formal rota for the music group, such are the number of musicians.  Rotas are a sign of growth!  A one man show doesn’t need a rota.

You will recall that the Gospel of Luke begins with a rota. Remember how Zechariah’s division of Abijah was on duty in the temple for a whole week twice a year.  It is when he is on duty in the sanctuary that the nativity countdown begins.  The angel Gabriel clearly had a copy of the incense rota.

And one of the first works of the Holy Spirit following Pentecost was to produce a rota!   The daily distribution of food for widows was becoming chaotic.  The answer – produce a rota!  So seven men filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom are selected;  I presume one for each day, to take overall responsibility for fair shares for all.

All of which gives me the perfect introduction to a perceptive quote from Milton Jones.  “Sometimes people think of a church as being like a giant helicopter.  They don’t want to get too close in case they get sucked into the rotas.”

I recall my five years at the Church of the Good Shepherd at Heswall.

When we arrived there wasn’t much happening even though there was a fair size congregation, mostly through people moving into the area with their job.  It took me a few months to discover that there were no less than eight men who in their previous church had been church wardens.  In their new church they had clearly decided to keep their heads down and duck the rotas.

Actually the problem in their previous churches was invariably the very opposite – the failure to use rotas and so prevent burnout. Rotas spread the load, sharing out the tasks and responsibilities over a wider group.

For rotas are also a measure of commitment for the whole church family, not just a few committed souls.  Clearly for rotas to work people need to be committed.  It also helps if they can remember!  For the one quality which God values in his servants is not ability or achievement or anything else beginning with an A, it is reliability!

“Well done, good and faithful servant!”  Faithfulness makes all the difference.  For Woody Allen observed that 80% of success is showing up.  Rotas make sure that you do.