by Scott Snow
As the “dog days of summer” fade into preparations for kids going back to school, there will still be time for many families to squeeze in that last exciting opportunity to get away before the more relaxed schedules of summer become distant memories. Others will know the excitement of welcoming these travelers (family, friends, and relatives) into their homes and communities.
Have you ever thought of this time of year as an especially good time to grow in your Christian faith or to share your faith in Jesus with others?
If you’re among those taking the last vacation of summer, or traveling on a weekend before school starts, why not consider how you and your family could use your trip as an opportunity to discover new ways and places to worship? For example, if you are away from your home and your home congregation, you’ll want to look for a church in the area you’re visiting. (Before you travel, use “Find a Church” at lcms.org as a way to locate a place for worship.)
After you visit a new place for worship, ask yourself (as well as others in your family) these questions:
- What did you find especially helpful or meaningful?
- How was the Gospel shared in the service?
- How did the experience help me to grow in my faith and Christian life?
- What was the same or different from our home congregation?
- What ideas or suggestions might we carry back to our pastor and friends at home?
(Also, you’ll want to be sure–before you travel or soon after you return–to remain faithful in giving your tithes and offerings to the Lord through your home congregation, just as you do throughout the rest of the year.)
Playing the Host
On the other hand, perhaps you will be the individual or family who will host visitors as they enjoy their last summer getaway. If this is the case, you’ll want to lovingly, warmly, and hospitably invite your visitors to join you for a worship service in your own home church. After worship–over a meal at a local restaurant or back at your own home–it will be natural and easy to discuss with your friends what they experienced in your church. What did they hear and see and think? Do they have any questions?
You will want to look for ways in which you could, especially, emphasize the Gospel message that was proclaimed earlier in the worship service through the Bible readings, the music, and the sermon.
Even if you’re not traveling or welcoming guests, this is still a wonderful time of the year to invite friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers to worship with you!
Pray that the Holy Spirit would help you identify two or three individuals or families whom you suspect do not know Jesus Christ as their Savior or who are not currently active in living out their Christian faith.
Then begin to pray for them, by name, each and every day–asking God’s Spirit to open their hearts to His love, mercy, and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Reach out to these individuals with acts of kindness, a card, or a phone call letting them know that you’re thinking of them and that you care about them. And, as God’s Spirit presents the opportunity, invite them to worship, an event at your church or school, a Christian concert, or other event that provides a Christ-centered message.
Travel–during the summer and at other times of the year–can be an exciting adventure! Why not add the adventure of worshiping in new places and welcoming others (both visitors to your area and those who live nearby) to worship with you?