May has arrived! That means summer is right around the corner. In a few weeks, school will dismiss, and the craziness of summer will be upon us. There will be weekend getaways, family vacations, sports tournaments, summer camps, and plenty of afternoons at the pool.
In the midst of all that craziness, it can be easy to neglect your relationship with Jesus. Too many people end up taking a “time out” from spiritual things during the summer. Many say they’ll reconnect when Fall rolls around, and things aren’t so busy. Unfortunately, those who do reconnect have thrown away three months of walking with Jesus, and plenty of folks just don’t reconnect when life calms down because life never really calms down.
To be clear, I don’t think anyone intentionally sets out to neglect Jesus. However, in our busyness and our travel and our activities, we tend to give Jesus the leftovers of our summer. Too often those leftovers are nothing but scraps of time here and there.
My challenge to you is simple. As you begin to plan your summer, plan on including Jesus in everything you do. Here are a few ways to make sure Jesus doesn’t get left out this summer.
- Make church attendance a priority. If you’re in town, don’t let a busy schedule or a late Saturday night keep you home. If you’re out of town, don’t forsake the opportunity to gather with other believers for worship and the Word. Find a church where you can worship! You need the grace and the rhythm of Sabbath even when you’re on vacation. If you have kids, they will especially benefit from the consistency of attending worship every week.
- Be regular in the “means of grace.” I know a number of spiritual practices can be lumped under this umbrella, but I’m specifically talking about the spiritual disciples of Bible intake and prayer. During the chaos of travel and busyness and activity, you must make time to hear from God and talk to God. Be regular in Bible reading. Listen to good sermons while you drive. Carve out time to be alone, away from your phone, so that you can talk to God.
- Find time for family devotions. Many Christian parents are needlessly intimidated by the idea of “family devotions.” But this doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. You don’t have to preach a sermon or play an instrument. You do have to be intentional. If you’re traveling to the mountains, talk about Exodus 20. If your kids are playing sports, talk about 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Find ways to connect the truth of God’s Word to your summer experiences.
- Give even when you don’t attend. Any pastor will tell you that summer months are lean months for church attendance and church budgets. I understand lean attendance numbers, but church budgets should not suffer just because people leave town. Stewardship doesn’t take a vacation. Don’t approach stewardship with the consumer mentality that only gives when you attend. Support gospel ministry at your church even when you’re not there by giving consistently.
I’d love to hear your ideas about how to make sure Jesus doesn’t get left out of your summer plans!
Landon Coleman serves as the teaching pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Odessa, Texas, where he lives with his wife Brooke. They have four children, Emma, Noelle, Amelia, and Clayton. Landon is a graduate of West Texas A&M University (BBA), and a two-time graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv and PhD). He is the author of Pastor to Pastor: Practical Advice for Regular Pastors and Pray Better: Learning to Pray Biblically, both of which were published by Rainer Publishing. Landon has pastored churches in Kentucky and Oklahoma, and he has taught for Oklahoma Baptist University and BH Carroll Theological Institute.