As a Church leader, I have a love and hate relationship with summer.
I enjoy the downtime that summer can provide. For two months I have no youth group, no small groups, few meetings and little expectation. I take the summer to focus on the future through sermon planning, youth group organization, and long-term organization. The summer affords me time to read, dream and pray.
On the flip side, I hate what happens to my Church community in the summer. Worship attendance in summer reaches annual lows. It is a tough time to get people motivated for the next week, let alone the rest of the year. There is an apathetic attitude that prevails over most of the people as they are tired from the long summer days.
Today I am thinking about my perspective on summer.
1. Find a Way to Keep Growing Spiritually.
I want to encourage everyone to make a plan to grow in your faith. One way might be to have a summer only Bible reading plan. Another approach might be to develop a list of books to read and commit to completing them. One more possibility might be to listen to a series of podcasts on some aspect of Christianity. Do something … anything.
2. Remember How You Model Faith.
The way you treat the things of God over the summer clearly communicates something to the people who know you best. Usually, the people the most influenced are your children. They develop a value system based off what they hear you say and what they see you regularly do. If you spend 75% of your summer weekends at the lake with no thought of Church, there is a message that is communicated. If you find a place to worship on Sunday while on vacation, another lesson is being taught.
3. Know that Actions Quickly Become Habits.
This one I see repeated every summer. Someone comes to worship with the Church on Easter and a level of interest in faith grows. That momentum carries them to Mother’s Day and often clear up to summer. Then they miss worship for this and for that and suddenly two months are gone. By now a new habit is formed, and the enthusiasm of belief that existed in the spring is sometimes lost forever. Missing a week or two is something almost everyone does, but those weeks can slip into months and years.
Summer is hard on pastors. We see people stall in their faith, watch their lives move away from God and lose people from our congregations. Personally, many times I slip into survival mode. I try to make it from week to week praying God will do a mighty work that I am not seeing. I wish it were not this way, but every year seems to repeat the same old cycle.
We are over halfway through summer, and I look forward to the fall. I do want to encourage you not to let another summer slip away from you. Better said, don’t allow summer to let you slip away from God.