The title of an article that passed over my desk the other day caught my eye on its way to my circular file, from which I quickly rescued it. It read, “Why do Summers Slump?”
Written by J.C. Bradley, it appeared in a publication of a large Protestant denomination. It begins this way: “The ‘summer slump’ has become so customary it has almost become a standard part of our church program. . . .”
This brought to mind a statement made to me several years ago by a pastor serving a large congregation. In discussing the prospects of going on a so-called “summer schedule,” which meant dropping one worship service and a general decrease in attendance and participation by the congregation during the summer months, he said something like this: “I know what’s going to happen, and so do my members. But I’m going to make sure they know I’m very much aware of the fact that I won’t see many of them again until next September. We are going to have a special service, with the celebration of Communion and all. I’m going to make certain that we go out for the summer in style!”
These two experiences turned my mind to the scriptural basis of, and for, corporate worship and I asked myself the question, “Why worship at all, winter or summer?” Is corporate worship optional a seasonal thing, something to be shared at Christmas or Easter or when the weather is bright, and then ignored the rest of the year? In my opinion, certainly not!
A Christian is one who acknowledges that he/she has been called to a life of total dedication to God through Jesus Christ. Such knowledge gripped the New Testament church. They knew that God had entrusted to them the message of reconciliation between the Creator and those He had created, and they faithfully and boldly, yet simply, proclaimed the “Good News.”
But what of the church in our time? We need to be reminded that the Lord is still present where even two or three are gathered in His Name (perhaps I should add, in light of the summer slump, that in some churches it’s a good thing!).
In worship, God continues to pour out blessings upon His children as they offer themselves to Him in repentance and thanksgiving, and then respond with dedication and service to others in His name and for His glory. Every time Christians gather for worship to praise and adore the God of our salvation we demonstrate our true stewardship of the Gospel for all persons to see.
Just as surely as the power of the Gospel stands at the heart of all true worship, so worship stands at the true center of the Christian life and faith. If we fail to respond in obedience to this truth, we will certainly not have a visitation of the Holy Spirit in our personal lives or in our churches.
It is in public worship that the church finds the full dimension of its stewardship to, and for, all people. Knowing this fundamental fact, we should see the use of our time, talents and possessions in a new light as we commit ourselves to God in response to His love for us as revealed so clearly in Jesus Christ.
As Paul the Apostle puts it in a familiar passage from Romans, chapter 12, verse one: “therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God this is your spiritual act of worship.” (NIV)
This is the only way to beat the so-called “summer slump.” It is God’s answer to the question, “Why worship?” May we respond in loving obedience.