Summertime hits us hard here in Seward, Alaska. We are a tourist destination and this place is “hopping” from May through September. People come from around South Central Alaska to come and play in Seward with their fishing poles in hand, with boats in the water, with their RVs in the campgrounds. And all of our local folks are not only trying to enjoy the Alaskan summer season themselves but many of them are earning their primary income for the year. It’s a busy time.
And I confess that, as my 4th summer in Seward is upon me, I haven’t yet figured out what to do with it, how to hold the church together, how to have discipleship take place in the midst of all of the hubbub. And, in talking with other clergy, it seems I’m not entirely alone. It’s a struggle for us all.
But it’s a beautiful place to have this struggle.
Therefore, I enjoyed reading a reflection from Steven Ruff, a Southern Baptist Pastor from South Carolina.
First, he lists three reasons why summer is high season for ministry for their church:
- School is out. There is a natural tendency for families to scatter with preexisting schedules being set aside for three months. It is our desire to give families something meaningful they can do together.
- Historically, churches take one of two positions during the summer: scale down or shut down. It is our desire to shatter the expectation that the church will be less effective during the summer by offering meaningful service opportunities. Although summer is a time of declining attendance, it doesn’t have to be that way. Meaning summer ministry is our way of reversing the tide.
- The community is very active during the summer. People are moving about the beaches, farmer’s markets, and community festivals. It is our desire to be active alongside them. We believe in discovering where the community is meeting and joining them.
And I really like their “Summer Family Ministry Challenge:”
Instead of surrendering the summer, we challenge our families to serve together. Our theme for 2016 will be “The Summer 70” and will run from June 11th – August 20th. Over the course of 70 days, there will be 14 service opportunities in 7 different locations. These ministries are varied: daytime and evening, weekday, and weekend. These ministries involve different skills and abilities, demographics, and ministry approaches. We intentionally schedule opportunities that allows the entire family to participate.
This is a better model than what we’ve been doing, focussing really on one weekend or one day. We need to find ways to get families involved together.