Malaise – a condition of general bodily weakness or discomfort; a vague or unfocused feeling of mental uneasiness and lethargy.
Something happens to many of us in the dead heat of summer. We sometimes call this season the “dog days of summer” or the “summer malaise.” We slow down. We try our best to stay cool, near water, under shade, or tucked inside rooms with well-conditioned air. It is hard to think, hard to focus, and hard to move and stay motivated. Churches experiences similar things. Summer attendance in worship wanes while people travel and engage in other summer activities. Ministries continue but with irregular schedules and often less energy and excitement. How might the church turn some of this summer malaise into motivation? Taking some insights from others in the business world, here are a few suggestions (thanks, Chris Myers):
Revisit Expectations and Goals
This year we have set some big ones at FUMC Graham. The first is our “Removing Barriers Campaign.” We are currently in the middle of one of the biggest renovations of our church in decades, seeking to make our ministry facility more welcoming, accessible, and modern. A final push to complete the first stages of this project is coming soon, including some exciting news about how to meet some of the financial contingencies that have arisen. Stay tuned for more! Secondly, our goal of revamping our website, streaming our services, and reaching more people in the larger community for Christ remains our central vision and mission. This fall, stay tuned for new ways to connect through small groups, bible studies, LIFE groups, and even a possible off campus gathering for unchurched seekers.
Stay Focused on the big picture and don’t sweat the small stuff
Focus. That is the key word. Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ through love and service. Our vision for how to do that in Alamance County is by becoming a loving and diverse community meeting the real needs of our neighbors through spirit-filled worship, inter-generational discipleship, and caring service. It is not complicated, but we can and do get distracted. The public square and our national discourse has become shrill and divisive. Violence, terror and fear continue to threaten our lives and, more importantly, our higher ideals of love, forgiveness, and unity. The world has never needed the Church more – called as we are to witness to a different way of being, loving and serving. Now is a time to stay focused on our calling, our purpose, and our Lord.
Staying focused and keeping our eyes on the larger mission and Gospel goals of God’s kingdom also requires a third thing …
strength to muscle through.
Fortunately, our strength comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. Hear these wise words from Proverbs 4:20-27: “My child, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them escape from y our sight; keep them within your heart … Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Keep straight the path of your feet, and all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil. Do this and you will thrive. Do this, and you may also turn summer malaise into missional motivation!