Fighting The Summer Slump

There are certain things that everyone in church world knows to be true.  Let me give you a few examples.  Nobody actually reads the bulletin but if you stop printing it, there will be a revolt.  Or, live testimonies before baptisms are awesome, except for when they’re a total train wreck.  Or, churches never grow in the summer.

I want to deal with that last one today.  When you find out our church doesn’t have bulletins and usually does live testimonies, it’ll come as no surprise to you that I’m not a fan of writing off the summer either.  I simply don’t believe the Spirit of God is constrained just because it’s warm outside.

Yes, I know it’s vacation season.  Yes, I know I pastor a church in a town that virtually shuts down in the month of August.  Yes, it’s also wedding season.  Yes, our congregation is young, mobile and has some pretty impressive frequent flyer accounts.  Yes, I know the statistics about summer church growth.  So, maybe you should write this whole post off as the adorable naivete of a first year pastor.

But if you’re part of Restoration City, I hope you’ll fight with me against the summer slump.  Here’s some of what we’re already doing as a church:

  • We’ve started sending direct mail pieces to all new residents in our community because we know there are a ton of people who move TO this city every summer.
  • Our first ever summer intern started this week with the specific mission of reaching out to college students and other summer interns.
  • We’re continuing to add new Community Groups, with the newest one starting in Alexandria in mid-June.
  • Our creative team is working hard to make each of our summer gatherings a powerful encounter with Jesus.
  • We’re moving RCC Kids to better serve families with children.

But our churches’ outreach strategy has always been built on us as individuals living as ambassadors of Christ. (2 Cor. 5:20)  God’s work of restoration flows primarily through us and secondarily through the programatic things we do as a church.  So, I want to encourage us to fight the summer slump personally.  Join me in:

  • Praying the Lord will make us effective in reaching the lost in our communities and open doors for us to develop relationships with people who don’t know Jesus.
  • Initiating spiritual conversations with those we meet (particularly people we’ve been building relationships with or those who are new to the area).
  • Inviting people you meet to join you at Restoration City.

I believe God has a lot He wants to accomplish through us this summer.  So, let’s lean in together and see how He wants to use this season for His glory and the good of our city.

Dependent & Determined

If every church planter was required to adopt a life verse, Psalm 127 would be a favorite.  If you’ve hung around church for a while, you’ve no doubt heard this verse at some point.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)

But don’t let familiarity breed contempt.  There’s amazing truth in this verse that should produce dependence and determination in all of us who long to see the church grow.

The dependence is easy to spot.  The psalmist is clearly saying that if the Lord doesn’t work, our work is worthless.  He’s the One who builds the house.  He’s the One who watches over the city.  It’s not us – our programs, methods, strategies and techniques – that build the church.  It’s the sovereign will of God moving His agenda forward.  Jesus teaches the same idea when He says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15:5)  There’s dependence – apart from God, we can do nothing.

The determination is harder to spot but every bit as important.  Psalm 127:1 also makes it clear that the Lord accomplishes His work through our work.  No where in the psalm are we told to stop laboring.  The point of the verse isn’t to get the builders to quit working.  The point isn’t to get the watchmen out of the towers.  In fact, the very opposite is true – keep building, stand your watch.  Keep working.  Belief in the sovereignty of God isn’t an excuse for laziness.

So, when I think about seeing Restoration City Church come to life, I know we are totally dependent on the grace of God and the faithfulness of Jesus to His promises.  But I also know our team needs to work like crazy, sacrifice deeply and approach our task with fierce determination.

God uses completely determined and totally dependent churches to display His glory through His people to a watching world.