“Summer has set in with its usual severity.”
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge
If I were still a high school teacher, this would be the time of the year when I would start counting weeks. How many were left until my precious summer freedom ended and I had to “go back?” (Surprise! Not only kids do this).
Now that I no longer have the ten-week summer recuperation period, but only a couple of weeks off, I do miss the extended break. But I also don’t have such an extreme need for recovery from the intensity and demands of dealing with adolescents. (Student walking into class: “We doing anything in here today?”
“Of course not, Bill! I’ve planned some intentionally-meaningless work for the class period.”
It WAS really time for me to make a change….)
In any case, I think summer demands a lot of us. Living with heat and humidity; the aggressive garden-weeds of early August; clothes that hide less of us; and the feeling that everyone is barbequing, picnicking, biking, frolicking, tanning, wearing flip-flops (ask an orthopedist about those things!), and having just a heck of a good time…. Except us. At least not as much as we should.
It’s all more in-our-face in the summer: the good, the bad, and the ugly. The demands to be vibrant, carefree, and getting up close and personal with Nature are, well, huge. There can be a lot of pressure to use our precious summer month to the hilt. Because we know what’s coming.
The Bible doesn’t talk much about summer (or winter). The more temperate climate of the lands of Jesus doesn’t make for many weather issues – except storms on the Sea of Galilee, and talk about droughts and famine. “Enjoying summer” doesn’t seem to be an explicit Biblical theme.
Church attendance falls off in the summer, everywhere, I suppose and certainly here at St. John’s. While I understand this on one level – the need for a break, a change in routine, the need to do other activities, on the other hand a total three-month hiatus puzzles me. There are still many things here in our common life that do NOT stop: births, deaths baptisms, marriages, outreach efforts, planning. Despite the season, we are here for you when you need us. And we miss you, truly, when we don’t see you for three months!
While surfing around various sites on this topic, I found one person’s appalling suggestions for improving summer attendance. I’ll include them here for a laugh—or a groan, but this kind of thinking may demonstrate why the Church is truly in trouble:
“Top Ten Ways To Boost Church Attendance During the Summer”
- Have your preacher preach from a Dunk Tank!
- Offer free samples of “Hellfire and Brimstone” BBQ sauce to every new visitor!
- Add a slide to your baptistery and advertise the church as a water park!
- Offer a free tank of gas for every five sermons heard!
- Convert your parking lot into an RV Campground!
- Convert the sanctuary aisles into putting greens!
- Replace your church sign with one that reads: “Tourist Information”!
- Have your elders and deacons dress up in animal costumes (if necessary)and open a petting zoo on the front lawn!
- Put up road blocks and tell people there’s a manhunt going on!
And the number one way to boost church attendance during the summer is:
Be there yourself!
WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?
Not Episcopalians, guaranteed. .
Thank you, God, for our church.
See you there……. Whenever….