Every year, the church-going faithful come into Pentecost with their post-Easter glow and then, well…honestly, everyone seems to disappear. The “summer slump.” as my formation colleagues used to call it, is real.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an excoriation. In many ways the church calendar sets us up for this. The season after Pentecost is a massive time. It is large and featureless. Unlike our church program year, which has celebratory times dispersed throughout the year, the summer months of “ordinary time” can feel like monotony. How many church people have joked about the 257th Sunday after Pentecost?
So, how do we beat the summer doldrums?
How can we make sure that the people most special to us still have some spiritual growth during this “down time” in Church attendance?
First, I hope that you have already begun looking for a Vacation Bible School (or two…or even three!). When I was a child, I know that I went to the Episcopal VBS, the Methodist, the Lutheran, and just to make sure that my grandmother didn’t write us out of her will, we had to go the Southern Baptist one too. (No offense meant to the Southern Baptists, but you know, a cradle Episcopalian was never going to fit in there…)
VBS is not just kids’ stuff either. I’ve never met an adult (or youth…) who didn’t benefit from helping to organize and lead parts of VBS. Your spiritual faith is nurtured in the process of nurturing others!
VBS not an option for you? No worries! Your friends at Forma have you covered! Thanks to an intrepid and amazing group of writers, Forma is offering weekly lectionary-based Faith-at-Home materials for every congregation. Currently, there is a fee for churches to access this material, but it is not expensive. To see what Forma is offering and to see the writers, visit https://www.forma.church/faith-at-home/.
This resource is perfect for the people who travel a lot during the summer. There are resources for adults with young children, adults with youth, and adult to adult! This is a resource for the whole church meant to give YOU the tools to be the primary formation leader of your own spiritual life and the spiritual lives of the people you care most about.
If for some crazy reason the Forma resource isn’t right for you, can I make a suggestion…just a tiny one – practice the Daily Office. What’s the Daily Office? It’s an amazing daily prayer activity that uses short, easy to follow liturgies and the daily readings. An excellent place to begin would be here: https://gregorians.org/office/ That link works well on a mobile device, includes the readings, and even gives you an option to read about the saints when we are celebrating a saint day! Isn’t technology a marvel? The daily office is a GREAT way to keep connected God. It invites you to stop, pray, and center yourself into God’s plan for the day.
I would be remiss if I didn’t end by saying that you should never take a vacation from Church. Bishop Curry told us all that “Love is the way” when he preached the Royal Wedding. That love is kindled by steady participation in liturgy. The good news for the nomadic, summer-loving Christian is that there are Churches everywhere you go! Even better, throughout the week, you have resources at your fingertips that can deepen and encourage your own discipleship. Take advantage of these opportunities and you will find that this summer you have been able to grow!
See you at the beach!
[Photo Credit: Jennifer Holt Enriquez, Peace Camp at St. Christopher’s in Oak Park, IL]
How will your family encourage spiritual growth over the summer?