As the school year comes to an end, the church also transitions to summer mode – when traditional Sunday School and Adult Ed programs go on hiatus, there are only two Sunday services, and pews have more gaps left by those on vacation or busy with other summer distractions.
Does your family take vacations from church during the summer?
Most of us attend worship less frequently during the summer season, but summer can be a great time for families to have important conversations and experiences that grow their faith and relationships.
Maybe our schedule isn’t quite so monopolized by activities related to school, sports and work, so we can choose some ways in which we intentionally reinforce the foundations of our faith. We can step back and be available to listen to God, listen to each other, and hear and respond to the needs of our community.
You don’t need to do daily devotions or go on a mission trip – just try one or two of the ideas below and you will be amazed at the great conversations and growth that can happen.
1. Watch a movie or video with a Christian theme
When my kids were younger, we couldn’t get enough of VeggieTales. Take those with you on trips or watch them at home during slow afternoons. The church library even has a whole collection of the DVDs, and it’s certainly on Netflix.
Movies for older kids include The Shack, God’s Not Dead, Heaven Is For Real, and Miracles from Heaven. Also check out online lists and reviews – here’s a list with ratings and summaries. There are tons of good movies that will get you thinking and talking about faith. Please recommend your favorites in the Comments section below!
2. Go to worship at a local church when you travel.
Thanks to Google, you can find a place to worship wherever you go, and it’s a little-known way to connect with the place and culture you’re visiting. We’ve visited churches in the Poconos, the Finger Lakes, Cape May, and Laguna Beach. It’s fun to notice the similarities and differences among the services, pastors and people, and it’s refreshing to reconnect with the same God wherever we go.
3. Serve the community
Since mission is central to our faith, live that out by choosing a way to serve the community – even just once – during the summer! It’s sure to lift your spirits and generate some important memories and conversations in your family.
Here are a few easy ideas to get you started.
Donate a fan to CityLights (by July 1)
Talk to your family about how many people don’t have fans or air conditioning, and the summer months can be pretty challenging, especially for families with young children, pregnant women, those who suffer from asthma, and senior citizens. So everyone in your family can pitch in to buy a fan to donate, or you can donate a gently used one or funds ($30) to buy one.
Bake a cake for Sherwood Soup Kitchen
Pick up a pan in the church kitchen, or use your own 9 x 12” foil pan, bake and decorate a cake and deliver it to the church kitchen to be put in the freezer until delivery! Contact Sally Hudson or the church office with any questions.
Pack up toiletry bags for Outley House men’s shelter
Outley House is the largest men’s housing shelter in Philadelphia, and it is always in need of “welcome kits” for new arrivals. In gallon zip-lock bags, pack small sizes of the following:
Label them “Outley House” and drop them off any time at the reception desk or church office any time the church is open. It’s a great way to deliver a tangible expression of care to men experiencing homelessness in our community. It’s also a great activity for a tween/teen birthday party! Contact Ted Behr with questions.
Help host families experiencing temporary homelessness
Make dinner for or visit with families who are visiting our church through the Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN). From July 15 - 22, our church will provide shelter and support to several families who are experiencing a temporary crisis in housing. Evening hosts are need from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. every day, and the children in the program love to play games or read books with host kids! Adult volunteers need security clearances, but if you want to just check it out, you can join another host during the week. You can also choose a night to drop off dinner for the families, or youth and parents can help with bedroom set-up, take-down and other tasks (no clearance needed). The experience can lead to important conversations with your kids about homelessness in our community. Visit https://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f044aaaa623a46-july2 or contact Sarah Hostetter or Marty Laird to learn more.
For ongoing mission opportunities for families, check out the church website at www.waynepres.org and click How to Connect, then Mission. We’ll soon feature simple ideas for your families to serve the community all year!
3. Listen to Christian music in the car
There are Christian music channels on Spotify (check out Top Christian), satellite radio (try channel 63 on SiriusXM) and FM radio (106.9 KLove). Or you can just ask Alexa to find a channel at home. Our youth expert Sarah Hostetter provided the following list of popular artists and songs:
For young kids, you can’t go wrong with the VBS CDs past and present, VeggieTales, or check out a music CD from the church library. You’ll definitely start singing along to the favorites. Of course Spotify and satellite radio have Christian kids’ channels too.
4. Listen to sermons online
Okay, this may be for the teens and adults in the family, but I highly recommend listening to sermons online at www.waynepres.org/sunday-sermons during walks on the beach, hikes in the woods, jogs around the block or long car rides. They’re less than 20 minutes and can reconnect you to God and make you think.
5. Check out books to build your faith
When you’re building your summer reading lists for your and your family, include some faith-building titles. Again, the church library has a TON of great titles that will keep you thinking and your faith evolving and growing in new ways. If you want to try to let go of worries and stress this summer, try Max Lucado’s Anxious for Nothing and his companion book for kids, “I’m Not A Scaredy Cat.” Guys, check out Tony Dungy’s devotional, The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge. For some great laughs as well as deep thoughts, check out Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards. And I know many people who don’t go anywhere without the much-loved devotional, Jesus Calling.
Just check out top Christian books on Amazon and you’ll find loads of good material for all ages.
Well, those are just a few ideas to help your family avoid taking a vacation from faith during the summer, and instead build experiences and conversations that grow your relationships with each other and with God!
PLEASE share your ideas for activities, movies, music and books in the comments below! Our community is full of tried-and-true ideas that should be shared. Thank you!