Over the next two months, many of us will be away from Church in the Canyon for at least one Sunday. The reason? School is out! It is time for summer vacations! For some of us, this poses a problem: where should we go to worship on Sunday morning? This month, I would like to offer three pieces of pastoral advice to help us worship on vacation.
1.Make Plans! If you do not deliberately make plans to worship on Sunday morning, you won’t worship. You probably know in advance where you will be on the Sundays you will be away. In planning your vacation, find a church where you can worship and put it on your itinerary. The internet is a great way to discover what churches are in the area you will be visiting and most churches will have a website that will help you determine whether or not the church is an evangelical, Bible believing church.
2.Go to Worship! As people, as often as not we tend to be critical of things that are different from what we are used to. We can sometimes be distracted by different orders of worship, different music, different preaching, different furniture… And thought by thought we can end up attending their worship service to critique it from our own theological perspective and (more often) personal preferences. Embrace the attitude of Cotton Mather (a third generation new England Puritan): “Wherever we can see anything of Christ, let it be dear to us.”
3.Hear the Preaching! I sometimes wonder whether or not we as Christians today spend more time evaluating and judging sermons than we do allowing sermons to evaluate and judge us. The Minister of the Gospel who preaches at the church you visit will use more or less illustrations that are longer or shorter than what you are used to. He will cover more or fewer Bible verses. He will preach for more or less time. He will be easier or more difficult to follow. He may preach more topically than verse-by-verse. He may be wooden or animated; speak too fast or slow, too loud or too quietly. But despite the novelty of his voice or style, you just might hear a godly voice urging you to a closer walk with Christ if you are humbly prepared and diligent to hear it!
This summer, I am looking forward to sitting in a good old-fashioned pew in Bethel Lutheran Brethren Church in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. In a lot of ways, the worship and the preaching will be quite a bit different from what we do here. But there will be something of Christ there, and I will hold it dear as I worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.”
May our habit be one of humble and joyful participation in the Lord’s worship wherever we spend our Lord’s Days this summer.