Swimming pools, vacations, and baseball—these are just a few of the many things we look forward to every year as spring gives way to summer. Children cannot wait for weeks of no school, no homework, and staying up late. Adults, however, do not have such a break from responsibilities. We still have jobs, bills, and things to do around the house. And yet, we do get to enjoy the slower pace summer brings. School sports take time off, vacations come, and the calendar becomes less busy. Summer is an annual routine which both children and adults look forward to.
As our calendars are temporarily decluttered during these months, we are presented with unique opportunities and challenges. One the one hand, you may have more time to complete a project you have wanted to finish, or you may take a family vacation. On the other hand, your routines are upended, forcing you to adopt new patterns only to revert to the old ones once fall rolls around. Thus, we are presented with a season that brings unique challenges and opportunities. But how can we best confront these challenges? How can we best take advantage of these opportunities? I believe there are three things we can do to avoid wasting our summer: prioritize corporate worship, build church relationships, and read a good book.
Prioritize Sunday Worship
Humans are creatures of habit, drawn to regular patterns that keep our lives relatively constant. As believers, our most important habit is regular attendance of Sunday morning worship. As we gather together each Lord’s Day morning, we collectively worship the risen Lord Jesus Christ, adoring him as our great God and Savior. We exhort one another through our singing, pray as one for the many needs of our church, and sit under the preaching of God’s word. Truly, Sunday worship is the axis around which our schedules should rotate.
Although we recognize the importance of this habit, as we break from many of our typical routines during the summer, we are tempted to fall out of regular church attendance. We use the extra morning to sleep in. We take a weekend trip that keeps us from gathering. We see our church family less on other days of the week, further driving us away from the community of faith. Although we have received summer as a blessing from God, we misuse it by withdrawing from his ordained gathering of the body of Christ.
How can we combat this drift? First, we must fight to protect our Sunday mornings. As Pastor Chase so often says, “Sunday morning is a Saturday night decision.” We must keep this mindset during the summer. This may mean not taking a weekend trip that keeps us out late on a Saturday night, or it may mean that we need to keep some of our normal routines, particularly for those of us with children at home.
Second, we should also keep Sunday worship central as we plan vacations. It is easy to simply use Sunday as a travel day, particularly in an attempt to get the most days in on the beach or at Disney World. While this approach may make sense pragmatically, it can often reveal that we have misplaced our priorities. Thus, we may need to leave our vacations a day early to avoid missing Sunday worship, or perhaps we could identify a faithful church to visit while away from home. However you need to accomplish this goal, strive to protect the centrality of Sunday worship in your summer plans.
Build Church Relationships
Many of our closest church relationships are formed and nurtured in Community Groups. As we gather throughout the week, we share meals, pray together, and converse about everyday life. We get to know one another at a deeper level, developing relationships that could not be formed through Sunday mornings alone. Unfortunately, as many Community Groups take significant breaks from meeting over the summer, our connections with others can begin to wither. Disconnected from weekly meals and times of fellowship and prayer, we can allow our deepest relationships within the body of Christ to become shallow. Though breaking from the regular pattern of Community Group meetings over the summer can be beneficial, we cannot allow this temporary cessation to hinder our fellowship with one another. We must continue to seek out our brothers and sisters, building meaningful relationships with them over the summer months.
Many ways to maintain and build Christian relationships could be listed, but I will simply offer two suggestions. First, we can continue to meet with those in our Community Groups. Though our groups may not be meeting on a weekly basis, this does not mean that we should disconnect from our group members themselves. This may mean having lunch after church, or perhaps may involve bringing your kids over for an afternoon at the neighborhood pool. However you choose to stay connected with those in your Community Group, pursue these activities to maintain the relationships you have already built.
Second, you could take the opportunity to build relationships with those who are outside your normal circle of relationships. You may not have met the new family that began attending a few weeks ago, or you may be unfamiliar with someone who serves in other areas of the church than you do. Take the time to introduce yourself, recognizing that the Lord’s providence in pausing summer activities has given you opportunities to interact with others in the church.
Read a Good Book
Investing in an entire book can feel like a daunting commitment. You may see the benefit to reading many books, but cannot fit the time into your busy schedule. Reading requires patience, concentration, and an unhurried pace—three things you may have precious little of after a long day of work, school, and taking your kids to their many activities. On a normal day, you may feel lucky to even get in a few minutes of quiet Bible reading before the next event on your calendar comes around.
Though the summer season will not give you endless amounts of time, and though you will still have responsibilities, you will likely find yourself with time to finally tackle an entire book. Even one that seems overwhelming at the outset can be finished with just a few minutes of daily effort. As an example, consider the excellent Gentle and Lowly, Dane Ortlund’s work on the heart of Christ. The book is slightly over two hundred pages, meaning that reading four pages every day during June and July would finish the book. You could complete this immensely helpful work in two months with just ten minutes of reading a day. Thus, summertime may be the ideal time to read a book that will edify your soul and draw you closer to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Make the Best Use of the Time
God has created the natural rhythm of the seasons for his glory and for our good. As these seasons change, we must consider how best to utilize their unique opportunities to the glory of God. Summer can be a wonderful season of rest, recuperation, and refocusing for the start of a new school year. However you choose to use your summer, strive to make the best use of the time God has given you, knowing that it is only a few short weeks before the busyness of fall will inevitably come.
Thomas Spivey (MDiv, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as the Managing Editor of the Oak Park Blog. He lives in Jeffersonville with his wife, Cristen.