Summer is a crazy, chaotic, wonderful, and sometimes inconsistent season for churches. On the one hand, VBS, kids camps, youth retreats, and mission trips can make summer a very fruitful time of the year for both evangelism and discipleship. On the other hand, family vacations, trips to the lake, and baseball tournaments can lead to the dreaded “summer slump.” The down side of the summer slump is not the deflated egos of pastors because of low church attendance. Nor is it the inconsistency with various ministries because the leaders are getting a much needed break. It’s not necessarily even the dip in offerings. At Trinity we have learned to go with the flow during the summer. We have meaningful camps, mission trips, and special services that we rally around. We realize that everyone simply will not be available for each of the activities. And that’s OK.
The downside of the summer slump IS the fact that a lake trip, followed by a beach vacation, leading to an All-Star tournament, just before the weekend trip to the mountains, can cause members of our fellowship to sometimes miss a number of weeks of body-life with their church family. This can lead to becoming spiritually drained, forming habits of not attending worship, and possibly a feeling of disconnect with God and His church. When fall comes around, many flock back to the flock. But some have simply slipped away because they have a new routine.
While there are a number of ways to preempt this tendency, including prayerful planning with the intention of not missing consecutive Sundays (or more than 3 of 10 summer Sundays, etc.), there is a strategy that I have tried to implement over the years. That strategy is to simply choose a place of worship on the Lord’s Day whenever and wherever we travel out of town over a weekend. There are churches at the beach and churches in the mountains. Places of worship are always near in this nation. Sure, you can worship on your own or with your family. But why not choose to attend a house of worship and be mutually encouraged with other believers? You will likely be a blessing to them, and you will probably receive a bigger blessing. Thanks to the internet and your flashy phone or tablet, you will be able to check out the churches and worship times wherever you go. If it turns out that the church was theologically off, unwelcoming, or made you feel awkward, you will appreciate your own church even more… and learn what NOT to do. But if the church is on fire and blesses your socks off, you will be refreshed AND bring home some wonderful insight to share with your church leadership.
Give it try! Don’t go on a vacation from corporate worship. Attend church on vacation!