We are in the very beginning of what is appearing to be a beautiful summer here in New York. Summer starts a little later in NYC than other areas of the country as school ends in late June. New York, just like your city, has a summer rhythm of life that slows down just a little and enjoys the season immensely. Movies in the park, concerts all over the city, summer Fridays, trains to the beach, and many afternoons relaxing in Central Park await us this summer. NYC is always a magical place, but even more so in the summer.
Churches in the summertime typically mirror this summer rhythm of slowing down, enjoying summer fun, and being less programmed as many people in the church take vacations. While missional communities are not a church program, each church must consider how they encourage and lead their communities to approach the summer.
Many churches, including ours, encourage their communities to take a “break”. “Break” is in quotations because you don’t take a break from community because you don’t take a break from being a Christian. You do take a very healthy break from many of the scheduled, more formal aspects of the community (which may not have to be there in the first place). So…
What do Missional Communities need this summer?
The Need to Find Rest Individually and as a Community
Encouraging communities to view this summer with the intent of finding rest while not sacrificing gospel activity will help them become a community on mission in the everyday. This helps us understand what rest is all about. Leaders and the community can learn how God has designed rest to empower us to love Him and others. Resting in God, life and His gospel is essential for sustainable mission.
We encourage our community group leaders to invite others to identify or plan fun activities and social events so they can take a break from being the initiators of their community. This becomes an invitation to shared leadership amongst the community, inviting all to be contributors to the health of the community on mission.
Summer provides time to be less formal in our interaction and participate in the relaxed activities that function naturally as community creators and opportunities for extending the gospel of Jesus Christ. Approaching the summer with the hope of extending the gospel can also be a way to experience rest. Throughout the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, the Sabbath (day of rest) often plays a predominant role in Jesus’ healing and teaching activities. On His sabbath, Jesus found rest through extending His love and establishing rest for others.
Find rest in Jesus, not merely in Netflix and lazy afternoons.
The Need to Find Mission in the Summer Rhythm
I mentioned this above that the summer provides some natural activities that can be infused with the mission of extending the gospel. Our communities need to approach their summer fun with an eye toward joining or including neighbors, family, and co-workers, instead of just fellow Christians, to learn that mission can happen on the beach, at the pool, and around the grill just as much as on a short-term mission trip.Summer fun shows us how gospel mission can happen on the beach, at the pool or around the grill like a short term mission trip. @logangentry
Here in New York, I watch missionary teams come from all over the country with similarly colored t-shirts and a catchy bible verse on the back to hand out tracks, host camps, and do other “missionary” activity. While these could be good ways to make people aware of Jesus, they are not natural.
When the gospel of Jesus Christ shapes the way we approach life, it can be normal to talk about your regular life (now shaped by your faith) over a meal, at the pool, and while hosting a backyard BBQ. Missional communities can enter into the rhythm of their city during the summer, participate in the neighborhood’s activities and find themselves cultivating friendships where life, and the worldview that shapes it, can be discussed.
The hope for missional communities in the church is to be living this way throughout the year and the summer provides an easy learning ground to teach us outside of a classroom.
The Need to Find Vision for a Fall Re-Launch
As each Community Group pursues the gospel shaping their summer fun, they are inadvertently preparing their community for a fall “re-launch”. They are cultivating a community that enjoys one another and has a view towards welcoming others into it.
The summer is meant for us to be refreshed by having fun, but it can teach us to make this type of fun activity a community rhythm even when the formal schedules of school, busy season at work, and a busier church calendar begin to vie for our time in the fall.
Take time to consider how the fall will be different for your missional community as you enjoy the summer together.
You could do this with your missional community, or you could waste your summer…
Of course, you could also use it to take a break from doing anything and you may find rest, but you might also cultivate a lifestyle where rest means escaping and disengaging. Rest was intended to be implemented into a weekly rhythm and not just a yearly break from normal life.
Missional communities need to enjoy their summer and find rest, but rest should never be absent from the family of God or the mission of God (nor should they be separated).
Enjoy your summer, it’s the only way to find rest.