Jun 17, 2011

Top Ten Reasons NOT to Go to Church This Summer

Yes, it’s that time of year. The weather warms up and all across America churches empty out. It’s different in places like Martha's Vineyard or Key West where congregations swell with the summer population. But for the rest of us attendance drops dramatically. Rather than ignore this trend I thought I’d help everyone justify the behavior. So here we go. The Top Ten Reasons NOT to Go to Church This Summer:

1. It’s Not Air-Conditioned
True. But I believe Jesus said to the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Won’t you sweat with me one hour?” Or something to that effect. Plus bulletins make terrific personal fans. If you’re lucky your spouse/child/pew mate will make you feel like Pharaoh by fanning you throughout the service. I keep waiting for a mother-of-the-bride to donate air-conditioning for the church in time for her daughter’s August wedding. It hasn’t happened yet but there’s a brass plaque I’m just itching to put on an air duct in honor of said family.

2. I Have a Boat
Of course you do. If you live on the South Shore of Boston like I do everyone seems to. Boats are great – Jesus spent a lot of time on boats since his disciples were mostly fishermen. He preached from them, calmed storms in them, and walked on water towards them. Come to church this summer before launching your boat and I guarantee you’ll hear at least one Biblical story involving boats and/or water.

3. The Lawn Needs Mowing
What, your teenager isn’t mowing your lawn just to pitch in around the house and demonstrate his/her love for you? Mowing your lawn on Sunday morning is a sure way to annoy the neighbors. And when you want to add that mother-in-law suite onto the back of the house you sure want their support. Don’t risk it; come to church and save the lawn for later.  

4. The Kids Have a Game in Duxbury
Summer travel teams are both fun and demanding. With two boys playing summer baseball, I’ll be spending much of my free time on mosquito-infested fields from Marshfield toRockland. When games take place on Sunday mornings tell the kids about Sandy Koufax. The Dodger great refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because it was Yom Kippur. He stood up for his faith and his team still won the championship. They won’t like it but it will make a lasting impression.

5. There’s Church in the Summer?
Yup. Every Sunday morning just like the rest of the year. 

6. I’m Away for the Weekend
That’s great – I hope you have a relaxing time. And I bet there is even a small Episcopal church nearby. Look for one of those red, white, and blue “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You” signs or use Google and your GPS to guide you into a pew on Sunday morning.

7. There’s No Church School
You can't teach kids to eat out in a restaurant if you never take them to one. The same holds true for appropriate church behavior. As for older kids who are “bored” during the service, send them to the acolyte master (assuming he/she is around during the summer) to get suited up for some gentle on-the-job training. The summer is a great time to learn the acolyting ropes. 

8. I Gave up Summer Church for Lent
I don’t believe that’s an “approved” Lenten discipline. But if you’re simply not in the habit of going to church in the summer, this is the year to break it! Amaze and inspire your friends as you receive the spiritual refreshment that comes with regular church attendance. Don’t be surprised if people start coming up to you and saying, “You look great! Have you lost weight?” And you’ll be able to respond with “I look fabulous because I’ve been going to church during the summer.”

9. I’d Rather be Outside
Well, we’ll be sure to keep the windows open so you can see the beauty of the earth from your pew. Maybe we’ll move Coffee Hour outdoors on nice days but the good news is you won’t need to put on sunscreen before church. And, as far as I know, no one has been eaten by black flies during the liturgy.

10. I Have a 9:00 am Tee Time
Perfect. Come to the 8 o’clock service. The 37 minutes you spend in church might even help your game. The 8 o’clock is actually a great option during the summer for people who want to get a jump on the day, get out to the beach, take a hike, go boating or whatever. You can experience the beauty of Elizabethan English and then speak to one another in thee’s and thou’s the rest of the day.

I hope you’ve found a good reason in this list to stay away from church until after Labor Day. But if not, enjoy worshiping the risen Christ throughout the summer months and may the days ahead be a time of rest, refreshment, and relaxation. And, anyway, there’s plenty of parking available on Sunday mornings at church.


Barbara Baxter said...

Here's one I'd never heard before: "Our 8:00 congregation will not come to church this summer because the Vestry decided to hold only one service and we don't want to miss breakfast." (Service times were changed from 8 & 10:30 to 9:30, which evidently is smack in the middle of the traditional breakfast schedule. The Rite (II) was not a problem, nor was music an issue. Just breakfast -- Break-Fast)

Meredith Gould said...

We never went to synagogue services during the summer because my mother said, "God goes on vacation." Given what little grace and mercy there was on the home front from June through August, I believe she might have been correct.

Sarah Brockmann said...

I don't think it's an accident that the second reading this Sunday begins, "Finally, sisters and brothers, farewell". See, even the people who put together the lectionary know the score! I wonder if Paul wrote those words in June?

Bundesbedenkenträger said...

Air conditioning? I can't recall ever been hot in church... but wait! Here in Europe we built most of them with thick stone walls: Cold in summer, warm in winter, expansive in maintenance...

Lisa Keppeler said...

Thanks for this Tim! #7 especially.

Danny said...

YUP! It's TOO DARN HOT in our church! spending umpteen thousands to maintain the church and campus, but so hot in church Im ready to expire! It's time to put some creature comfort into our worship experience...There's just only so much suffering I can take!

amymccreath said...

How about this one: I'm from southern Ohio and am so glad there's a Graeter's in Hingham now, that I'm spending the whole summer there. (Seriously, you should go. I grew up on the stuff....)

klamach said...

Amen 10 times over! Love it!