Saturday, March 29, 2014

The roller coaster of the church year

You know the big hill on most roller coasters? The one that goes chunk-chunk-chunk-chunk as it climbs?  This is the March and early April phase of a church calendar, as we moved toward 'year end.'

The church year is an intriguing beast. Still tied to the academic calendar, which is in turn tied to agricultural calendars very few of us follow anymore. We start soon after Labor Day, go pretty steadily through September and October and most of November. There's the wiggles of the holidays between Thanksgiving and New Years, then some chance of new energy. January and February work their way and March (in Texas) has Spring Break. By the time April rolls around, it seems as if most are chugging toward the end of the church year, toward summer breaks or changes.

It's not that people's lives are always calm over the summer, that they will have no life-changing events or need for celebrations and connections.  It's not as if everyone in our congregations takes a vacation in the summer months, or that they are out enjoying a too-brief supper.

The summer reductions in church programming, to me, speak of a reluctance to take our faith seriously. When damnation was cast aside,  a weekly check-in with God and/or church community seemed less critical. A shrug and a "who would notice" inkling can lead to Sundays in nature, in bed, in errands.  Not a one of those is a poor use of time, but neither are they full lesson plans for a free and responsible search for truth and meaning--where the responsibility involves sharing one's ideas and requesting feedback.

What might be a sustainable option for year-round ministries, keeping energy up AND allowing for staff and clergy breaks as needed?  Who might step up to continue momentum? How might a congregation use collaborative leadership to be a part of the solution? What piece would you love to hold or to juggle?

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