There are plenty of things a church leader could do on their summer vacation. Have someone lead a devotion while in the car. Listen to Christian music. Take a good Christian book to read on the beach or by the campfire. Watch a church service on-line. But the one thing all church leaders should do is find a church to attend on Sunday
You read that last point correctly. All the introverts reading this article just threw up. I’m not kidding, find a church. Go in. See what being a stranger is like. You’ll feel a little awkward. That’s OK. It might be a good service. But even if it’s not, you will definitely be a better follower of Jesus (and a better church leader) if you attend a church on vacation. Notice the signage and how easy it is to get around. Ask yourself, “Is the signage in my church helpful to a visitor?” You’ll see what to do (or not to do) when a visitor sits by you. Were the folks sitting by you friendly? Are you friendly to the visitors that happen to sit by you in church? Moreover, it’s worth taking the family to church on vacation because, in so doing, the message sent to your kiddos is that church, God and “remembering-the-Sabbath-and-keeping-it-holy” matters.
One time on vacation, we attended a church in Ohio somewhere. It was pre-Google days and pre-GPS days. We had a catalog with all the Nazarene church locations in the entire country and a paper map. It was just before 11AM on a Sunday morning and we followed our map to a little church. Only the church building had been sold since the catalog was printed and it was now a Free Methodist Church (Free Methodists are good people, so we stayed).
The church had maybe forty people. We were clearly visitors. During the passing of the peace time (pre-covid, of course), a lady in front of us turned around and asked if we were from the town.
“No, we attend a Nazarene church in Michigan,” was our reply.
“Oh, the Free Methodists have much better preachers than the Nazarenes.”
I’m pretty sure, Karla was about to agree, but the lady quickly turned around and didn’t give any of us a chance for conversation. Maybe since we weren’t from there or weren’t Free Methodists, she didn’t want to waste her “pleasantries” on us. She began to greet others. No one else talked to us. Not. One. Person. Maybe that was one of the reasons that church only had 40 people in it.
Still I was reminded how important it is to notice visitors when they enter a strange building. I was taught that even if the visitor is a “one-timer,” they still might be exactly where God wants them. Maybe, just maybe, God has a divine appointment set up for that one-time only visitor. Maybe that divine appointment includes you. I didn’t get much out of the sermon, but I was taught a lot that Sunday.
Church leaders need to know what it’s like to be a visitor. They need to constantly be asking, “What’s it like to be a newbie in our church? Are we friendly? Is it easy to find the restrooms, the worship area or the nurseries?” Good church leaders take an hour of their summer vacation to do a little reconnaissance to improve their home church.