It’s a great time of year, except for the bugs!
Or so says a new survey reported in "USA Today." Insects are the most often mentioned detriment to backyard outings and picnics. But there are other irritations. Fifty-one percent of respondents don’t like flimsy paper plates, 36 percent don’t like unsteady lawn chairs, 35 percent don’t like plastic utensils and 31 percent don’t like the plastic squeeze bottles with mustard and ketchup drippings running down them.
The survey even included the hard core complainers, since 15 percent of men and 10 percent of women don’t like checked tablecloths!
In spite of all these negatives, summer is a great time. A time for family and friends and travel and baseball. For grandparents it's a time to take the young ones to the zoo or fishing or to the beach. Grandparents enjoy these outings as much or more than the grandchildren.
But, alas, summertime is not usually a good time for our churches since attendance plummets and finances falter. I’ve never really understood why attendance goes down in the summer. If our members went to church when they were out of town, the out-of-town churches would have good attendance, and the church back home would have good attendance from the out-of-towners who were visiting. I’m afraid the truth is many of us simply take vacations from church when we travel.
So, a few suggestions to keep your church healthy in the summertime.
First, attend church someplace while out-of-town. We can be encouraged and refreshed worshiping with another congregation while traveling. And it does us good to see what other churches are doing--we might learn some new ideas we can bring home with us. Be sure to pick up a worship bulletin and give to your pastor or music minister when you return. They usually like to look these over for new ideas, too. Many ministers don't get to visit other churches very often and they enjoy knowing how others are doing things. (Lay folk should be sure not to brag on the sermon you heard while on vacation to excess!)
Second, be sure your responsibilities are taken care of before you leave. Enlist someone else to usher or teach or count money. Nothing is more disconcerting than having tasks go undone when no one is aware of a planned absence.
Third, leave your tithes and offerings with your church before you depart. Expenses go on even when you’re not there.
Enjoy your trip, but don’t take a vacation from God. We need him and his church-- even in the summertime.