I’m not sure when it passed the tipping point. It had taken hold by the time I was a child. Today, it is a full-blown holy epidemic! What, you ask? The church calendar is too busy. The longest and most sacred of the Ten Commandments is the instruction to keep Sabbath – to rest. The New Testament church is often referred to as a sanctuary. But look at the typical church calendar or church newsletter, and you find an onslaught of activity that relentlessly robs the average family of rest. We’ve taken the old hymn to heart, “We’ll work ’til Jesus comes…”
Our church staff gathered for retreat last year and noted this reality. The church makes it almost impossible for families to spend time together. (Of course, we are not alone in this. Almost every other institution and organization is vying for more and more of our time.) While on retreat, we recognized that a family containing one elementary student, one middle school student and one high school student would have ZERO weeks of available vacation if they participated in all Summer ministries. Mission trips, camps, Bible school and more have creeped into every crack of the Summer. Of course, we had noted it the year before… and the year before… and little changed. This year, we decided to do two things to chip away at the problem.
First, our typically weeklong Vacation Bible School is being condensed (powerfully condensed!) into a 24- hour Vacation Bible School Blast. Our children will gather for Sunday School on Sunday, June 4, and will be involved in Bible Study and fellowship for a solid 24 hours! They will be at church all day long… all night long… and the parents will pick them up on Monday morning! Becky Ramsey is leading a wonderful Bible Blast team in the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount. Second, rather than resuming Wednesday evening programming on the Wednesday when school begins, we will start Children’s Choirs, Missions, Wednesday night supper and MidWeek Fellowship on the Wednesday after Labor Day. This will provide children and families time to orient to school schedules and sleep schedules.
I know these may seem small, but it’s our first attempt to reclaim the biblical mandate to offer people a sense of Sabbath and rest. We’ll keep working ’til Jesus comes, but we also want to be a place of sanctuary again…