Summer Church — Revealed!Posted: June 24, 2010
Despite what you might have heard, it’s not true that Episcopalians are the only ones God trusts enough to take the summer off. Our churches remain open for business throughout the summer. It’s true! Don’t tell anyone though because we wouldn’t want to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with too many people.
Here are some common misconceptions about summer church:
- There’s no Sunday School. Actually, some churches hold informal one-room schoolhouses for kids that show up. This can be a nice way to keep children connected to God through the summer months. And if not, summer is a great time to get kids used to being in church – Sunday liturgy is the ultimate in Christian education anyway. The services are generally shorter and if they’re a bit wiggly no one cares. Do you really want SpongeBob to be their sole moral guide in July and August?
- It’s too hot inside the church. Sure some churches have air conditioning but not many. If you don’t have those fans you see in Baptist churches with the preacher’s face on one side and an ad for a funeral home on the other, you can always use the service bulletin. The upside is that you can feel free to dress down during the summer. And, remember, at least you don’t have to wear vestments!
- The service is too long. Maybe it just feels that way because of the heat (see number 2) but summer services are actually shorter. Fewer people means communion takes less time and many churches cut out some of the optional pieces of the liturgy.
- I’d rather be fishing. It’s true that the original apostles took fishing breaks in the Sea of Galilee. That’s what they did for a living, after all. But they also balanced this out with regular times of prayer. Jesus wouldn’t have it any other way.
- The music’s not as good. No, the full choir isn’t around in the summer but some churches have all-volunteer summer choirs. If you love to sing but can’t commit to the regular rehearsals, this is your chance to be part of the show! Plus, clergy and organists tend to program popular, singable hymns in the summer months. The old warhorses rule.
- Early tee time? No problem! That’s why God invented the 8 o’clock service.
- I’m in New Hampshire/The Vineyard/The Cape. Fine. Go to church out there, enjoy worship in a different style, bring back the bulletin, and hand it to a member of the worship committee.
- Fill-in clergy are boring. That’s not true – generally. Sure the rector may be on vacation (some parishioners live for this!) but if you know any inspiring retired or bi-vocational clergy, let your priest know. We’re always looking for good help when we’re away. Of course I once had a veteran priest tell me that the key to hiring supply clergy is to find the worst preacher you can get because the congregation will be thrilled when you return.
So there you go. There are no more excuses. Go to church this Sunday wherever you may be. You’ll be better for it and you’ll find summertime to be an even more fruitful and enjoyable time of year.