Let God loose in the summertime
“Unless your congregation is made up entirely of people who own two homes or who can afford to take three-month vacations every summer,” writes Ann A. Michel of the Lewis Center for Church Worship in an article called Avoiding a Summer Drop in Worship Attendance, “it is simply a myth that everyone is gone all summer.”
Michel may live in or be thinking of New England in her article because while in seminary at Boston University’s School of Theology, I was amazed at what may surprise—and likely disappoint—Michel (and perhaps you, too). Some churches actually close for the summer. They don’t close forever and plant a supersized FOR SALE sign on their front lawn in and around their geraniums and zinnias; it’s not that kind of “close”; they simply take one long summer break.
“What church just stops during the summer?” you may wonder. I wonder that, too.
We shouldn’t stop, but we should look into changing our pace, practice, and programming in the summer—especially now that August is in sight. Let’s let God loose this summer.
A new breath from the other three seasons is—and should be—welcomed. Let me use music as an example. For us to hear different music during the summer months? Yeah, let’s open up to this. I encourage and politely challenge church leadership AND churchgoers (yep, that’s most of my readers!) to find, share and consider hearing God in music beyond our faithful choir’s anthems or in the hymns that make our short list 50 out of the 52 Sundays in a year. Make the secular sacred. We can do it.
One way to let God’s diversity and expression come through uniquely is appropriate love songs. With our local Girl Scouts, I directed these young singers in the 1961 Little Peggy March pop hit, “I Will Follow Him.”
It’s obvious to us that we follow God. It’s also obvious that we love Him, but that is not how this post-1950s, girl-meets-guy chart topper was originally intended. With the right scripture, reading, or prayer, special summer music can be just that–special.
God isn’t boring. We shouldn’t be, either. I’m not guilting anyone into some ‘one-upmanship’ creative challenge or suggesting you add another thing onto your plate; I’m simply inviting all of us to experience God in summertime ways that may surprise, delight or even renew us. Play a song from a Beetles CD in church or have a teen who is in that teen way (you know what I mean by this) perform a new song, or after hearing it played, have them explain why it speaks to them.
Help out your pastor. Make your music director smile by helping him or her. Shake it up. Slow it down. Have a group of us Christians been still and silent in a sanctuary for five minutes?
Michel writes, “For many people, the slower pace of summer means they have more time and energy for church, not less.”
Write or find a poem. Share awesome photos for the congregation to see. Look and listen for God not just in what the world calls religious, but by innovative and inventive ways that God is calling us to find and share as August comes our way.
Let summer be summer. Allow the joy of God continue through this season by giving God the place and pace to be known through you.
This blog first appeared in The Susquehanna Independent on July 18, 2018.