seasonal faith

The final few weeks of summer in the life of a pastor typically involve preparation, planning, meetings, brainstorming, and other such activities related to a congregation’s fall kick-off. Basically, many modern churches follow the school calendar when it comes to primary programming of events and activities beyond weekly worship.

In many ways, this makes sense. People are often away during the summer months and time of rest from the busyness of ministry can maintain a necessary level of sanity (!!!) in the annual life of congregational programming. And practically speaking, when many other aspects of culture break for the summer months, it makes sense for churches to shift gears as well.

I’m generally okay with this situation - I like my rest and relaxation!

But I wonder, generally speaking, in our acceptance of seasonal church ministry do we risk unintentionally accepting a seasonal faith?

Have you ever asked this question: Do we make following Jesus a seasonal activity?

And these words from Christopher Wright only sharpen the challenge:
“We are called to role of the prophet, not just of the chaplain. That is, the church’s role is not simply to put a veneer of uncritical blessing on whatever social or economic (or military) enterprises take place in the public arena.” (The Mission of God's People)
This should include our calendars.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many valid reasons to shift gears for a few months - rest is healthy and necessary, for individuals and churches. But let’s know why. And if necessary, let’s be ready to model a different way. After all, following Jesus doesn’t happen at the whim of popular culture or at a pace that suits our personal convenience. It may be obvious, but it’s a healthy reminder: we follow Jesus in all seasons.

The blessedness of the Christian life is that it’s about our whole life, all of the time. 

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” 
(Dt. 6:5, Mt. 22:37).


Anonymous said...

Good question, David. It's got me mulling, various angles... Thanks!

Len Hjalmarson said...

I too think its a good question. And to broaden it out, my experience of "kick off" events is that they tend to reflect the in-grown-ness of faith communities. Too many of our churches remain program centered, with metrics that reflect the ABCs - attendance, buildings, cash. We should have learned from the REVEAL study that we need to be asking more questions about discipleship and life on mission..

David Warkentin said...

You're welcome Dora!

And Len, I think you're right about the tendency towards program and metrics. Interesting, though, as I help with planning for kick-off events, is the opportunity to introduce other metrics (discipleship and mission) in the midst of our programing. Too often programs and discipleship/mission are pitted against other - or at least that can be the impression. I hope we can get past this and re-vision all that we're doing.

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