I continue with my thoughts on Church and life in Alaska from yesterday.
3. In Alaska, holidays are different. That is only partially true. Holidays here in Alaska are still about family, but you often leave the state to see them. If you do not leave the state to visit family over the holidays then you leave the state with your family to spend time together in a warmer climate – often Hawaii.
For Church – this has really messed me up at times. Thanksgiving, Christmas and even Easter used to be big days in the life of the Church I was leading. In Alaska, I usually expect the attendance at holidays to be below average. People are out of the area and usually out of the state. Also, I expect the people who do attend to be warn out from travel and company.
4. In Alaska, summers are an exciting time. In the summer the days are incredibly long with nice weather. All the people who headed south for the winter (we call them “snowbirds”) are home for the summer. The local people stay here because there is a lot of money to be made from fishing and tourism. Besides that, who wants to leave Alaska in the best part of the year? Guests overflow the city and our population swells. New people move to town with dreams of this wonderful life in the big state. All the shops are open and life is buzzing all the time.
For Church – That means there is usually a summer “hump” instead of a slump. For the last 4 years our attendance has grown and grown over the summer usually peaking in early September. We do not have a lot of extra activities at the Church in the evenings, but people still come every Sunday and usually with an attitude of excitement. Everyone is here and they are happy to be living in this beautiful part of the country and they get to meet new people every week from all over the country. Summer is wonderful and the only down Sunday is the week the red salmon hit the rivers, but that is another story.
Leading a growing Church is extremely different here that in the lower 48 and that it is always a struggle to figure out how to plan and prepare for the future. These are the two biggest trends that help me plan.