Summer is almost here. (The weather seems to have arrived before the season.) In the summer, the rhythms change in our ministries. Worship times change, services are combined, and the choir might sing less regularly. Sunday School may go on hiatus or take a different form. There are camps and conferences and Vacation Bible School. And, speaking of vacation, many of our members will travel in the summer, or they will bring friends and family visiting them. Attendance can vary wildly from week to week, not to mention the holidays.
Summer can be a time for the church to take a breath, for committees to take a break or do some leisurely long-term planning. Pastors might spend some time in contemplation for the busyness of fall, anticipate the next church year, and what kind of study leave will help them grow and guide the congregation through it. Many pastors who are taking well-earned sabbatical time take it over the summer months. Other leaders might be resting up for new challenges ahead. Summer can mean time to do necessary rest and reflection. But the one thing we don’t put on break is our faith.
How do we adjust to the different rhythms of summer, get the rest we need, and not just put God on hold? How can we fully engage our faith life within those rhythms?
Summer can be a great time for a short study. It could be lighter fare, meandering through a fun small group study with friends, or maybe a deep dive into a particular topic re-energizes you instead of adding stress. There are myriad book and Bible studies that fit into the timeframe.
2 Corinthians is coming up in the Revised Common Lectionary, and makes a great summer preaching series. Having your church follow along with the preaching could bring up some interesting conversations. We like this devotion and small group study, A Heart for Reconciliation, that also has sermon thoughts. Good for individual and group study.
If you or a whole group of you are up for a challenge, you could read the Bible in 90 days together. If you or your church hasn’t done this before, it can help you look at the Bible in whole new ways, truly seeing it as a whole, and not just a bunch of disparate pieces. What are the themes that run throughout? Which of the stories we’ve read so many times will surprise you? And, reading together creates accountability and a team to climb Mt. Bible.
For those looking for simple ways to renew and engage your faith, you might look to Living Every day as Disciples’ (LEAD) Summer Intentions. You can go to their website each day, or you can sign up to have them delivered to your email each day. Daily devotion and practice that shakes up your normal rhythms, while fully engaging and enjoying the summer.
Maybe you want to try on a new prayer practice – walking and praying every day, journaling or writing letters to God, lectio divina. Or you might want to try something else new. Memorize scripture, learn unknown hymns and praise songs, or write terrible (or wonderful) poetry. There are so many ways to encounter God that we probably haven’t explored deeply. And we grow as disciples and leaders each time we try something new, even if it’s just for the summer.
How will you spend your summer “break?” And how do you want to meet God along the way?