Summertime Pews

By Danny Chisholm.  Reprinted with permission by the author.

It’s that time of year again, and has been for a few months now. I for one enjoy a change of pace, and know that students in particular are glad not to be seeing their schools for a while. No homework, no studying, and no church.

What? Did I just say that?

Your church may be no different from ours, in that summertime signals the beginning of vacations, sporting events, and travel. I have enjoyed taking a little time off myself, but find my vocation a little more demanding during the hotter months of the year.

We’ve gotten busier with Vacation Bible School, youth trips, and a musical festival this past weekend. And I know that next month will bring a whole host of changes with back to school preparations and resuming the routine. But for now, I wanted to say that I’ll be looking forward to our wayward souls returning to Bible Study and worship soon.

Amy Butler has a good article about the phenomenon of church in the summertime. She relates this from the standpoint of a pastor looking out over the empty pews on Sunday morning. I think most pastors can relate to what she is saying, and I agree that it’s not so much about the “numbers” as it is about missing the people who represent them.

One of my favorite seminary professors at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary was Dr. Bob Simmons. He died not too long ago, but left behind a great love and legacy for pastors. I remember one sermon he preached about the importance of church attendance and what ought to happen when we get together for worship. He said, “People expect the pastor to lift them up once they get to church. What many don’t realize is that by their attendance and listening to us preachers, they lift us up.”

I don’t expect to get any immediate results to this entry except to acknowledge there is a psychological and emotional impact to church attendance. People notice who is and who is not there on Sundays. And pastors can be affected by all the empty pews needing to be filled. Those pastors I really feel for are those who serve in churches who have tremendous areas for worship that once accomodated large crowds. Through the decades, the congregational size has been downsized while the size of the building of course remains the same. It’s a tough reality to changing times, changing neighborhoods, and sometimes an unchanging church.

I’ve had a good summer, and hope that our people have as well. Pretty soon though, we’ll be getting back into the school routine and with that I pray will be new faces and familiar ones entering into the Lord’s house for fellowship and worship.

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