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Summer Loving

By Pastor Phillip Howle
web reposted May 15, 2013

RELIGION – “Summer loving have a blast, summer loving happened so fast.” Now, you can blame me for getting this song stuck in your head all day, but as I was humming this tune the other day a thought came to me about how much people love summer. I am more of a spring and fall guy, my propensity to sweat, aversion to mosquitoes, and skin that abhors the uv rays does not make this time of year my favorite season. But for many, all year is spent looking forward to summer. And with good reason, school is out, the lake is close by, time off from work, frequent gatherings with friends and family, almost perfect right? Sure. All expect one other little thing that corresponds to summer, skipping church.

Growing up, my family was never big on vacations. We did not have a boat and were pretty much home bodies. I never encountered skipping church during the summer till I dated a girl with a lake house. They lived there in the summer, which was cool with me. She was cute and had a jet ski. But I remember asking her one Sunday in the summer how church was and she just replied “Oh we don’t go to church in the summer.” I was blown away.  I was thinking “you know I am glad that Jesus did not take Good Friday off from work or we would all be going to hell!” I might as well have said that out loud, as that relationship did not work out in the long run.

Now, I am pastor and your pastor at your church will agree with my feelings. Some Sunday’s during the summer I get to church and think the Rapture came and I’ve been left behind! Then I wonder did the church plan some congregation-wide weekend at the lake and no one invited me? I mean it was a mistake; I should have never worn that Speedo last year at the pool party. Did we cancel church and I forgot? Lots of people just seem to not show up for a three month stretch in the summer.

Now, it is OK to skip every now and then. I realize you have lives to lead. I myself will be on vacation in August and will probably find a local church, or may have worship with just my family. I am not hating on a good trip to the lake or the beach, if you are gone a week to Florida and miss two Sundays in a row, that is fine. Try to find a church near you or have worship as a family. But I just want to ask church goers to consider what every absence at church means, even those in the summer.

First, there is a lesson about commitment.  We are always teaching our kids about God. By missing numerous Sundays during the summer you are teaching your kids church is fine, but man the lake is better! You are teaching that we as a family like church, but it takes a backseat to a jet ski. I hate to see this summer fun end as we have to get back in the grind of going to church.

Second, people need you at church. We are a body and we share responsibilities to each other. Hebrews 3:13 commends us to “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” The writer of Hebrews goes on to write in Hebrews 10:23-25 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  (24)  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  (25)  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” You are essential to the spiritual well being of others, and when you miss church habitually during the summer you miss encouraging someone God has placed in your life.

Third, it affects the church. I read one writer who wrote that “An empty tomb proves Christianity; an empty church denies it.” The health of your church depends on your being there. Think if a visitor comes and it is a ghost town. How does this exalt the worth of Christ, when everyone else seems to prefer the lake to worship of Jesus?

Fourth, it may be indicative of a spiritual problem in your own life. It may not, but it may very well mean your zeal and excitement for Christ has waned. When a marriage is in trouble it is common for the couple to stop spending good time together. Kent Hughes sums this up as he writes “On the most elementary level, you do not have to go to church to be a Christian. You do not have to go home to be married either. But in both cases if you do not, you will have a very poor relationship.”  Jesus addresses the church at Ephesus that had a problem, admonishing them in Revelation 2:4  "But I have this complaint against you. You don't love Me or each other as you did at first!”

Fifth, let me tell you the dirty little secret that most Christians don’t want to acknowledge: The average church-goer actually likes missing church. I am not going to lie, a day off is amazing and having nothing to do but rest and fun is great. We need that. But please be aware that Satan can easily take “I work hard all year, and I am there most of the time, but I need some time for myself to rest” and turn that into a self-ward focus that begins during a summer slump but continues with a way that increasingly justifies sin disguised in the garb of looking out for yourself.

So, I am praying you all have great summers. Enjoy God’s great creation, enjoy time off, but just be alert and spiritually aware the ramifications of every Sunday you miss. Absence can make the heart grow fonder, but continued absence can quickly ruin a formerly healthy relationship.

I do need to offer one thing to churches to help numbers be high during the summer.

Here are some good ideas to share with your pastor.
·    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 or deacons dress up in animal costumes (if necessary) and open a petting zoo on the front lawn!
·    Put up road blocks near your church to divert traffic and tell people there's a manhunt going on for an armed murderer!
·    And finally, the number one way to boost church attendance during the summer is: Be there yourself!

God Bless You All, Be Safe, Apply Sunscreen Generously, Invite Your Preacher To The Lake, and Keep Jesus First All Summer!

Pastor Phillip

Pastor Phillip

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