Looking Ahead

Churches, at least here in New England, have a bit of a momentum problem. We gather in September with great enthusiasm for a new church year and pick up speed as we sail through October and head into November. There’s a peek at Christmas and then a bit of a dip as we all recover from the festivities, followed by a slow and steady build right up to Easter where attendance culminates each year at an all time high and then slowly but surely… the numbers start to drop. Participation begins to sag, not just on Sundays, but across the board. By the time Sunday School has closed up shop for the season and summer arrives, most sanctuaries look like ghost towns -the only thing missing are the tumbleweeds - and much of the work we’ve been doing as a congregation comes to a stand still. Even pastors get out of Dodge for the season and, admittedly, I’m no exception. 

 

Well, rather than fight or decry this rhythm, I think it makes a lot more sense to embrace it for the rest it affords us all while still thinking creatively about of ways to turn the quiet of the summer months to our advantage as a community. So before you all scatter to the four winds for July and August, I want to throw some ideas out there so we can maybe set some things in motion and let you know that we welcome any ideas you might have as well.

 

Adopt a Worship Service

 

I’ll be away for much of the summer and both the choir and our beloved music director, Toni Wilcox, need a break as well. This means there is plenty of room for people to step up and not just participate in worship, you can even help craft it. Although there are plenty of pastors and musicians we can invite in for the day, there is also a lot of talent and wisdom right here in our congregation. I want to invite you to dust off the guitar in the corner of your living room or the tuba you haven’t played since college, and think about sharing your music with us as an act of worship. Or perhaps you’ve got a message on your heart that you’d love to share with the congregation. You don’t have to be ordained to preach or lead us all in prayer. Maybe there’s a group of you out there who would like to plan a worship service together. Summer is a great time to experiment a little. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Lord knows none of us are. It just has to be real.

 

Lemonade Stand

 

Our kitchen is going to be closed much of the summer for renovation, so we’re planning on moving fellowship outside on to the front lawn. There will be a card table left just inside the front doors along with a large jar. We want to invite folks within the church to sign up and bring lemonade and cookies each week. You can put the jar on the table and anything you collect will go to the mission of your choosing, be it a mission of the church or some other charity close to your heart. 

 

Church Book Club

 

My favorite part of summer, hands down, is reading. There’s nothing like sipping a tall glass of ice tea in the shade while enjoying a good book. I read a lot and have come across some great books this past year that I wish you all could read too. Why not pick one and invite others to read and discuss it with you. You can then set up a time to gather at someone’s house and talk about the book over your own tall glasses of ice tea. I think this would not only strengthen our church with new ideas, it would strengthen our relationships with one another. Some books I highly recommend:

 

“The Underground Church: Reclaiming the Subversive Way of Jesus” by Robin Meyers

“Power Surge: Six Marks of Discipleship for a Changing Church” by Michael Foss

“Jesus Freak” or “Take This Bread” by Sara Miles

 “What We Talk About When We Talk About God” by Rob Bell

“Sabbath in the Suburbs” by MaryAnn McKibben-Dana

 

I’ll set some possible candidates out on a book table for you to look over after church. Let me know if you’d like to host a group and we’ll get the word out together.

 

Attend Worship 

 

And finally, go to church even if you’re away from our church. There are a lot of churches out there and chances are, even if you are very far away, you’re still within driving distance of a congregation. Worship with others, praise God, give thanks, and pay attention. Who knows, you might be inspired by something some other church is doing this summer, and you can bring their practice back as a gift for us all.

 

Wishing you peace and a much deserved rest,

Pastor Sarah