The vacation season is upon us. I’m sure all of us at some time will be heading at least 2 hours west to the mountains or 3-4 hours east to the beach. The annual summer family vacation has become a staple in the American landscape, and with good reason: we all need a break. The desire that we have to get away from it all begs the question, “How should a Christian handle Sunday while on vacation?” There seems to be this spiritual tug of war that we all have going on inside of us when we are on vacation. Should the desire to “get away from it all” bleed over into our church habits? There are about 5 different ways we can all handle Sundays while on vacation this Summer. Here’s a lighthearted look at each one.
1. No church – The thinking behind this decision is simple. You’ve been faithful in your church attendance all year (except for sickness and that one time you stayed out too late but you blamed missing church on that blasted alarm. There’s also that one time you got tickets to the Panthers and decided to tailgate, but besides that, you’re good). Why not just chill with the family. It would be better anyway to see how your pagan neighbors live their life every Sunday morning so you can understand them better. Also, by skipping out on church while on vacation, you’ll be able to really appreciate church when you get back home.
2. Rental house church – The voice of the Holy Spirit or your 5th grade Sunday School teacher is telling you to do something. In fact, this option is usually the first thing that pops into your mind when your innocent 5-year-old asks you why your family isn’t going to church today (you were hoping that they would lose track of the days). You decide to have a little church service in the rental house living room. This is a great option if you are looking for something to do in 10 minutes or less because the amount of distractions that a living room rental house has hovers around 3,000/minute. Read a story, make one spiritual application, and then have someone pray. We’ve got our church fix in, now let’s go hit the beach!
3. Media church – You want to do something churchy, but but your didn’t bring church clothes, and you really don’t feel called to lead anything (remember you are on vacation!). What’s the next best option? Turn on the TV and watch a preacher. There’s also the option of streaming a church service online. This is the option of good intentions. We all know how this will end though. Have you ever tried to watch a sermon through the medium of video? For some reason it’s about 10 times more boring than being in the room with the preacher. I don’t know what is lost in translation, but I’ve never been able to make it through a full sermon on television. We’ll most likely turn it off after about 15 minutes and tell ourselves that we did the best we could. Now let’s all go to the pool!
4. Small church – You’ve decided not to take a break from God this year (and you feel pretty proud of yourself). You notice a small church in the area that is right down the road from your place. You decide that it would be a good thing to try this small, country church. In fact, they would be encouraged by having visitors. You realize though that when you walk into the church they really don’t know what to do with you. They haven’t had a real visitor in a couple of years, so everyone stares a lot at you for the first 15 minutes while you’re there (speaking from experience here). It’s nice, but in the end you realize how difficult it would be to actually find a good church in a vacation town.
5. Big/cool church – There’s a church that you passed while on your way to your rental house that looked huge. In fact it’s not just one building, it’s a campus. You do a little web surfing and find out that this church has about 14 weekend services, so you decide to check out what is going on there. The best part about this church is that they keep emphasizing that you should come as you are, so you decide to test that just a bit. Why not come dressed ready for the beach already? Nothing immodest of course, but haven’t you always wanted to wear swim trunks to church (and I’m not talking about the 5 minutes that you wore them during your baptism). The church is cool in every way. Your kids even leave with gel-styled hair. The whole service is done in 1 hour, which seems like a great thing since you’re on vacation, but you wonder how you would enjoy 52 weeks of this in a year.
So there are your options. I haven’t even decided what our family will do this Summer, but no matter how you spend your Sunday away from us at Providence, I hope you come back refreshed and ready to worship again with us. I look forward to hearing how your spend your vacation Sundays this Summer.