Sunday, June 7, 2009

Changing Church Service Start Times for Summer

We are not going to make it to church this morning. I feel somewhat bad about that. I also feel that it is partly the fault of my church. Today we start our summer service; we go from having 2 church services to one.

During the non-summer time of the year, we go to the 10:45 service. Some weeks, we barely make it to that service on time.

Now our summer service start time is 10:00. I'm sure we will make the adjustment, but we're not successful today.

I wonder why churches scale back in the summer time? I might try a different approach. In the summer, I've often felt that I have more time. It stays lighter later, and I feel like I have more energy. The tourists have gone home (in South Florida, our tourist season lasts from January to mid April, depending on weather patterns in the north), so it's not a hassle to drive. If I had kids, in the summer, many of their activities would dry up: no sports, no theatre, no test prep.

I'd be happy to devote some of that time to church, but often churches have scaled back their activities to just one service. I understand that in the past, people perhaps went on long vacations, and a church couldn't count on them being in town. Surely those days are over.

As I think about Confirmation and how Confirmation competes with so many other activities during the school year, I wonder if it might not make sense to move Confirmation to summer. Sure, there would be a week here and there where each kids would miss a session because they went on a trip, but it couldn't be any worse than during the school year. Could it?

Yesterday I read an article in The Washington Post which made a compelling case for year-round school. I could make a similarly compelling case for year-round church. Why interrupt our spiritual formation just because it's summer? Why not offer even more activities? If we do a better job of spreading out our activities across a year, maybe our church leaders, both rostered and lay, might not arrive at summer so exhausted and depleted--and for that matter, we could say the same for congregations.


John said...

I would like to know who first thought this to be a good idea. Not to thank them because I have never seen it work as intended because we are creatures of habit. Only the truly diehard adjust their schedules accordingly.
We give the impression that the summer months are not as important as the rest of the year. We are going to lose the folks who travel on vacation, not much we can do about that. But we also lose folks who, unable to maintain their routine find other activities to fill their time.
If anything, we should be adding to our schedules because people have more leisure time. If our volunteers work so hard the rest of the year because they know they will get a break, then we need to either scale things back during the year or enlist more volunteers to pick up the slack.

Kristin said...

I'm glad to know it's not just me feeling this way.