Does worship attendance slump in summer? What can you do about it?
. The Rev. Patrick Ward, interim priest in charge, St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Westhampton Beach:. The joke among Episcopalian clergy is that Episcopalians are the only ones God trusts to take the summer off.. What we're doing is to have some Sunday children's activities during July. We also are changing our worship schedule July through Labor Day. We're going from two Eucharist celebrations -- 8 and 10 a.m. -- to one at 9 a.m.. I sometimes wonder why attendance drops off in the summer. I like to go to church when I go on vacation. I understand there's going to be a drop, but I don't like it. I consider the worship on Sunday as the minimum commitment.. There's an old story about a Church of England priest visiting here in America. Someone asked him if he was going to attend church Sunday. He replied, "My boy, I made that decision 40 years ago.". I come from the mindset that you get up on Sunday morning, go to worship and then do something else. On some level, choosing something other than worship is a form of idolatry. You've chosen another God to worship that day. If you value your relationship with God and Jesus, you attend to that.. The Rev. James Lupis, Grace and Truth Church, Coram:. Attendance fluctuates even throughout the year. In the summer, with vacations and people taking long weekends, you definitely get fluctuation. We think it is important that we stay consistent. We don't change our worship times or activity schedule. Yes, we'd accommodate some if we changed times, but we'd inconvenience others. We feel that by staying consistent, people know when and where to find us.. We find that most regular churchgoers make a commitment to attend each week. It is the newer Christian, who hasn't developed a habit of going to service, who may drop off. The world sometimes seems to be so against attending church on Sunday. When I was growing up, everything was closed Sunday except church. Now, you have baseball and other sports being played. Even schools have activities on Sunday.. Yes, there are vacations and special commitments sometimes that cause you to miss service. But, I think that once you put Sunday service into your routine, then you'll attend. You have to learn to incorporate it into your commitments. You should work your other commitments around your commitment to God. You put God and his kingdom first.. Rabbi Scott Hoffman, Temple Israel of South Merrick, Merrick:. Around 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem, there was a time when not many people were coming to sacrifice. They called it summer for the altar.. What do we do about it in modern times? There are three answers. There is a certain relaxation of the dress code. I don't like wearing a tie in the summer myself. Number two, we give lay people a chance to participate in the service. Whether performed by a rabbi, cantor or lay person, you're fulfilling the obligations of the service. At formal programs, who takes part is more important. In the summer, if someone hits a wrong note, it isn't such a bad thing.. We also have special events to entice people to attend. Maybe we'll have a Major League Baseball All-Star Break Shabbat and you can wear a baseball cap or jersey of your favorite team.. The Rev. Hope Johnson, pastor, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Central Nassau, Garden City:. Yes, we do have a slump during the summer. I firmly believe that your spiritual growth doesn't change during the summer. It is a year-round thing. When I came here eight years ago, this congregation closed during the summer. I said, "No, no, no." We changed that.. We have service every Sunday. We're more informal during the summer. For the most part, the services are led by lay people, but I'm there. We have music as part of the fellowship, which is followed by refreshments. In July and August, we have a picnic, party or some other big event.. We look at this time with the lay leaders as a time to develop leadership. It is less stressful -- and more inclusive.. There are a lot of people who do a lot of church shopping during the summer. So, we want to be open for them.. Maybe the summer is your time to deepen your spiritual relationship. It is a good time for renewal and reinvestment of your firstname.lastname@example.org.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,