Top 10 reasons NOT to go to church this Summer

simpsons_church_sign_closed_for_summerYes, 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 like to release my annual (new and improved!) list of 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. Also, you can play “Guess What Saint That Looks Like” with the ever-growing sweat spot on your priest’s alb.

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. [Note to my friends in the Heartland: ignore this one or substitute “RV” for “boat”].

images3. 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. My Parents Never Went to Church in the Summer
I’d prefer if you kept your family of origin issues between you and your therapist. But since you bring it up, isn’t this a terrific way to embrace your inner teenager and do the exact opposite of what your parents did? You, my friends, can stop the notion that Episcopalians are the only ones that God trusts enough to take the summer off. In other words, stick it to the man by going to church this summer!

5. There’s Church in the Summer?
Yup. Every Sunday morning just like the rest of the year.  Clergy prepare and preach (occasionally brilliant) sermons whether there are 300 people in the pews or 50.

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. Then you can either return and share with the rector and vestry how much better things were at St. Whatever or be grateful for the good things going on at your own St. Whatever.

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” joke-on-pastor-afduring 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 like, say, Lent Madness. 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 or hold the occasional “Mass on the Grass.” One great thing about being indoors for an hour on Sunday morning is that you don’t need  to hog tie your children to slather sunscreen on them before leaving the house. 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.


19 Comments on “Top 10 reasons NOT to go to church this Summer”

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I like your answer to #7. I would point out that your reasoning speaks to why all generations should always be in church together. And as to the bored part, if children are bored it is because the adults are emanating boredom and the children are picking up the vibes.

  2. Lois Schenck says:

    cstewart@redeemeronline.com

    Thought you’d get a kick out of this, especially the golf excuse! Lois

  3. Sally says:

    Oh darn, we don’t have an 8 am service during the summer.

  4. John Williamson says:

    One of our (now former) warden once asked, “Are you a normal Episcopalian or do you go to church in the summer?”

  5. Bob M says:

    Hey there are people in the Heartland that have boats (I don’t). They use them on what are called “lakes” with fancy docks and a second home! Fortunately, our Diocese has congregations near the lakes one can go to.

  6. Father Tim says:

    Fair enough, Bob. Minnesota is the land of 8 zillion lakes or something as I recall.

  7. Well said! And I may have just discovered my new favorite religious blog! Keep up the great work!

  8. And about #5 — usually the sermons are not repeats or re-runs.. . something new every Sunday.

  9. Lois Schenck says:

    I’ll be in Hingham to visit, so I’ll find out if anyone took your advice!

  10. “The summer is a great time to learn the acolyting ropes.” Yes, including learning not to twirl the ends around during the service. Oh, those weren’t the ropes you meant?!🙂

  11. Father Tim says:

    Thanks for finding the blog, Kathryn, and welcome!

  12. linda maumus says:

    you should write a book. about anything. it would be fun and funny. or maybe you’ve written one and I just don’t know about it yet?“Are you a normal Episcopalian or do you go to church in the summer?” from an above comment-I love that! I go to church in the summer so I suppose I am abnormal…..

  13. C Martin says:

    If you are away for the weekend in Naples FL, Trinity-by-the-Cove has a dock for your boat!

  14. Father Tim says:

    Well, Linda, I did write a book a few years ago called “What Size Are God’s Shoes: Kids, Chaos, and the Spiritual Life.” I’m considering retiring and living on the $12.87 royalties I’ve earned. Maybe one day I’ll find the time to write another one but in the meantime we’re all stuck with my blogging, tweeting, and Facebooking. Cheers!

    FYI, here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/What-Size-Are-Gods-Shoes/dp/0819223123

  15. marguerite says:

    Attendance at our 8 am about doubles in the summer months. Makes for a bit of stage fright for me, the lector, but COME ANYWAY!

    Besides, in thr summer, you hear all those ordinary time Gospels that people like to blog/rant about. Eg Martha & Mary.

  16. linda maumus says:

    well Fr. Tim- your royalties are about to go up….maybe by 5 cents or so. I just ordered your book. I wish it had been around when my 3 were small, but I can use it w/ the grandchildren! i’m sure it will be fun to read!

  17. Father Tim says:

    Thanks, Linda! And enjoy — I’d love to know what you think. Also, I’ll think of you the next time I have to do that “add a penny/take a penny” thing at a convenience store.

  18. linda maumus says:

    (y)

  19. linda maumus says:

    ok- that didn’t work. it’s supposed to make a thumbs up/like icon. once I get the book from amazon I will critique it! i’m sure it will be a fun read. yes- add a penny…..


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s