I love the arrival of summer.
Summer means just a t-shirt and shorts to depart on the run, not nearly ten minutes of piling on parka-like gear to fight off arctic conditions.
Summer brings the freedom of outdoor excursions with my pipe, a book, and my favorite beverage.
Summer ushers in outdoor sabbath days.
Summer days supply vacation days.
Summer redefines the weekly prayer walks along well-worn paths as warmed by a constant and varied chorus of singers on the wing.
These are a few of my favorite things.
As a pastor, however, there is one thing I dis-like about summer - the dreaded summer slump. You don’t have to be a pastor to be familiar with this, and maybe you dread it too. What are your reasons?
I dread it because I really miss seeing people. I mean, I get it, I’m a Minnesotan. I’ve lived through what I feel was about an eighteen month winter, and I want to go away and play. But I miss when so many people are gone for weeks at a time, because they aren’t just attenders, they’re my family.
I dread it because the expenses of the church keep coming in the summer months, but the giving seems to go on vacation, which often brings stress upon church pastors and staff.
I dread it because summer seems an optimal time to be involved in the God’s mission to reach our neighborhoods with the Good News of the Kingdom of God, and people miss out on the weekly gathering to be encouraged as a family in that pursuit.
I’d like to offer some reasons for fighting against the summer slump, by pointing you to a couple of excellent, brief articles on just how to do it.
In the first, Nathan Rose writes on 5 Spiritual Dangers of Skipping Church, providing reasons and explaining why skipping church is a really bad idea. His starting point:
1. You will miss out on God’s primary design for your spiritual growth and well-being.
The central aspect of corporate worship is the preaching of God’s Word. The proclamation of Scriptures is God’s primary means for a disciple of Jesus to grow in spiritual maturity. When a professing Christian misses church they are missing God’s prescribed process for spiritual growth.
2. You disobey God.
3. You make a statement to the world that God is not worthy of worship.
4. You can’t minister to anyone.
5. You skip out on a foretaste of heaven.
Read the whole thing >>
And in the second, Erik Reed writes of the summer slump:
It’s that time of year again. You know the time well. Our fall through spring ministry season is coming to a close. Now we move into that dreaded time of year: the summer slump. Every pastor dreads it. Many churches suffer from it. But why?
Summer is challenging for churches because of the number of things contending with for people’s time. The warm weather sends many to the lake or swimming pools. Vacations are taken. Sports are active. Many just grow into the habit of sleeping later. These factors, and others, often lead to summer slumps.
Fewer guests show up.
Momentum seems to halt.
But does this have to happen? Is it inevitable?
I believe the answer is “no.”
In recent years at the church I pastor, we have not only maintained momentum in the summer, but gained it. In fact, I’m about to begin casting vision to our congregation over the span of multiple weeks on why we should refuse to go through a summer slump.
Here are the 5 things he is going to remind his people about:
1. Lost people still perish eternally in the summer.
2. The Holy Spirit still regenerates sinners in the summer.
3. People can still grow spiritually and be discipled in the summer.
4. We are still in need of community in the summer.
5. Jesus is still worthy of our praise and worship in the summer.
Read the whole thing >>
Let’s do this shall we, in our churches? Let’s live, and play, relax, go outdoors, and vacation; and let's pursue Jesus in and through it all, this summer — no summer slump!
Refuse to let the urgency of the gospel grow weak in the summer. Jesus is building His church. The gates of hell will not prevail against it. This building, that Jesus is actively doing, doesn’t take breaks for summer. The gospel still changes lives in the summer. The kingdom of God still advances in the summer. God doesn’t take summers off in His plan to redeem His people, neither should we. May Christ be exalted in our churches this summer. And may our people see the dog days of summer as a time for continued spiritual growth.