You probably clicked on this post assuming that it was going to give you some tips on what and how to read during your summer vacation, or maybe you thought it would be a “how to redeem the time with your spouse and children”-type blog post. Those are obviously good and wise things to pursue, but what I am more interested in your not wasting the Lord’s Day while on vacation (Hebrews 10:23-25).
You never take a vacation from your Christianity, so why would our modern concepts of vacation sway us away from attending worship on the Sunday of our vacation? What makes the situation particularly dire is the fact that many families miss two Sundays because of travel and vacation time allotted, thus missing two whole Sundays in a row. I want to encourage you to rethink your historical patterns for vacation if they have included skipping church while away from home on vacation.
I have found myself in some pretty awkward conversations over the years when it comes to my conviction on this. In conversation with people -- who I would often categorize as “solid Christians” -- upon my asking where they worshiped or will worship during vacation, I have heard any number of reasons.
“You know, we were just so broke-tired when we got to the hotel that we just stayed in, bro.”
“We were worshiping in a different kind of way; you know what I mean? Like a Sabbath rest.”
“Are you trying to Jesus Juke me right now?”
“Man, you know I did a little devotion with the kids, and then we went back out on the lake.”
“I didn’t really know where to go, so we slept in at the hotel. It’s vacation! I need some R & R.”
“I just really prefer to worship in my own home church, so we didn’t go anywhere.”
“You know, I just hear the Word better when my own pastor preaches.”
You could probably conjure up any number of other excuses you’ve heard or used yourself. But at the end of them all, these folks chose to forsake the assembly of the saints during their vacation, and I think that is spiritually dangerous, not to mention that it speaks volumes of one’s perception of the local church and her worship of her Lord each Lord’s Day.
Here are a few reasons why skipping worship on the Lord’s Day is problematic:
It sets a poor precedent for you and your family for how to view worship of the Lord and the designed rhythms He has set within the Christian life.
This kind of thinking and decision falls prey to the false dichotomy that says worship is not restful.
It runs the risk of turning church into a thing on the to-do list, instead of a delight.
Here are a few things you can try:
Use a church search engine to find a faithful church in the area. Both 9Marks (https://9marks.org/church-search/) and The Gospel Coalition (http://churches.thegospelcoalition.org) have really nifty church search engines. You simply type in the zip code where you are going to be vacationing, and the engine will draw up a couple different options from which you can choose. You can click on the website of one of the local churches and check on their service times and then attend accordingly.
Go to a well-known church in the area. One of the benefits of the digital age is that we are very aware of websites, pastors, preachers, writers, and theologians. If you stop for a moment and think about it, you can probably remember that whatever town you will be vacationing in has a reputable and worthy preacher to listen to.
Go to a church from a different tradition than yours. For the more adventurous among us, this is a good idea. When I was a pastor in Arkansas I always embraced the chance to worship at a different church when I was on vacation or traveling. It was a chance to worship and observe under a different liturgy. I come from a Free Church background, and to observe a few of the more High-Church liturgies has been oh so helpful! I say this with caution, but for the really bold among us, one can even attempt to go to a church that seems to have lost its theological moorings. This can be heartening, disheartening, and super stimulating. I have had occasion to go to Episcopalian, Methodist, Independent, and even a few Charismatic churches that were utterly fascinating to observe. It presses you to think through your theology of baptism, polity, The Lord’s Supper, hymnody, and overall ethos.
So there you have it. Don’t waste your vacation by wasting your Lord’s Day when on vacation.