They’re all around us.
Every weekend, they show up early and stay late. Driving rain, blazing sun, falling snow, gusting wind. It doesn’t matter. Whatever the weather, no matter the season, they’re there. Unloading trailers. Setting up tables. Sweeping off sidewalks and unfolding chairs and filling communion cups and putting out traffic cones.
But they’re the Unseen. They finish before you show up and start after you leave. By the time you get to church, their job is long done. By the time you’re settling in for a Sunday nap, they’re just packing things away.
They’re the set up crew. They’re the tear down team. And they give literal blood, sweat, and tears week in and week out to prepare elementary school cafeterias, high school auditoriums, steeple-clad churches, historical theaters, and rented convention halls. What you never think about, they must think about. There are procedures to follow, checklists to eyeball, strategies to determine. If they do their job well, you’ll never notice. But if one supply tub goes missing or one area rug gets left behind, they’re suddenly on the radar of every Sunday School teacher or elementary school principal in their zip code.
And that’s the tragedy of the Unseen. Their job is thankless, endless, and monotonous. They have to deal with mis-packed crates and misplaced signs. They don’t have the luxury of not showing up. They don’t have the freedom to knock off early. If the task is to be completed, if the service is to go on, if the classroom is to be ready, it falls on their shoulders.
Perhaps during the week they run a corporation or plod their way through college. But on the weekend, they trade their neckties for tshirts and their textbooks for tech gear. Maybe on Monday through Friday they give orders, but on Saturday and Sunday they take them. And they deliver on them.
They don’t do it because the have to, they do it because they want to. Oh, make no mistake: it has to get done and they don’t always want to. Their service always brings sacrifice. When their alarm blares at 5:30 AM, when they miss yet another Sunday lunch with their friends, when their social life takes a back seat to their servant’s heart, they may choose to be a blessing even when they don’t feel very blessed. And still they show up.
And before you think that the Unseen are only a mobile church phenomenon, they’re at your permanent site, too. Maybe it’s the elderly gentleman who faithfully shows up before dawn to turn on the heat and put on the coffee. Perhaps it’s the lady who quietly arranges the flowers for the communion table. They’re not as known as the pastor, they feel more comfortable backstage than onstage. But rest assured: they preach just as many sermons every single weekend.
It’s important to note, however, that they may be Unseen. But that doesn’t mean they’re unknown. While you might not see them, someone sees. While you might not know them, someone does. And the One who sees and knows is the One who empowers, indwells, and equips them to do it again next weekend.
I’m thankful for the Unseen. They’re the invisible force that prepares a venue and then returns it to Monday morning perfection. They set the table for worship services, first time guest parking, and altar calls. They pave the way for discipling conversations, ministry opportunities, and life-changing moments.
Maybe you don’t know the Unseen, but now you know they’re there. This weekend, why not show up a few minutes early with a box of donuts? Why not stick around a few minutes late with a hand-written card? And when you show up, roll up your sleeves and offer to push a cart or wrap a cable. It’s the best way I know to let the Unseen know that you see them, and that you’re grateful for them.
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:1-4, ESV)