It seemed to start early this year, at least at my church. I first noticed it a couple weeks ago. I stepped up to the microphone to start the service and saw… a smaller crowd than normal. Much smaller. Vacation season had begun.
Which means that for the next month or so, my congregation will be decidedly smaller than usual. Vacation season is inevitable; it happens every summer. It affects all aspects of church life. But when you’re up on the platform and see so many empty seats, it gets discouraging. So what’s worship leader to do?
Amanda Furbeck, writing for Worship Leader Magazine, has some suggestions. She writes:
Alongside the fun and festivities that come along with the sweet retreat of summer time is a difficult phenomenon for worship leaders: summer lulls in attendance. Oh, it is definitely not ‘personal’ – people are on vacation, participating in family reunions, and diving into their summer activities. But it surely feels personal to stare out at a sparsely filled sanctuary, trying to impart some energy and times of praise into a few minutes of the weekly worship hour. A little freshness and a little something new or different may be just enough to add a little sparkle back to the worship set.
One of her suggestions is something my church likes to do on occasion: the outdoor service.
Worship in the park. One reason for church absences during the summer is that folks are seeking time to enjoy the great outdoors. The call of the wild is hard to ignore, but bringing the worship time out-of-doors may give worshipers a whole new reason to praise the Lord. Move the worship service to a nearby park, outdoor bandstand, or even a large backyard. Focus on themes of creation and praise, and thank God for His beautiful creation.
Amanda has some other good suggestions as well, and you should read her full article. I love she closes it out:
Whatever methods or ideas are implemented to engage the congregation, whatever means are used to add energy and freshness to worship, there is no substitute for delighting in the Word of God and no replacement for genuine, sincere worship of Jesus Christ, the Savior, Lord, and King.