Some Reflections on Summertime and the Ministry

A few weeks ago a friend commented, “I am sure you are looking forward to summer, with things slowing down for you!” He said that knowing how crazy full life was for me this spring. Well, I was and am looking forward to this summer, but things don’t slow down any more in the summer. It’s been this way for a long time.

I remember talking with Pastor Steve about this 5 or 6 years ago. Life had changed at Living Word. Rhythms had changed. There are some ministries that slow down over the summer. There are some mid-size communities that take a break, as do many small groups.

But the work that he and I (as well as many others) do all year long doesn’t really change much in the summer. In fact, there are two things that make it pretty busy. First, staff are on vacation, which is nice for them, but then those who are in the office are picking up some more workload. Of course, that is just the nature of work everywhere. A second reason is that we are already doing our planning for the fall. This summer we will work out the entire fall programming, including our Sunday sermon series.

This summer, with all the construction taking place, ministry is more challenging. Staff is moving around all over the building. The pastoral team, the staff who work with adult formation ministries, and many of the staff who do the management work for the church, lost office space and have temporary offices set up everywhere. We are in transition, and that takes energy.

All of our staff who have responsibility in teaching and communicating are doing a Bible study on Ephesians. We spend 2 hours on Thursday digging in and diving deep. We are already seeing the dividends of this kind of biblical and theological work together.

While I am studying Ephesians, I am also doing personal work in 1 and 2 Samuel. While I have not made the final decision, there is a good chance that I will teach a mid-size community Bible study in 2017-2018 on 1 and 2 Samuel. I have been working on these books that tell the beginning of the nation Israel and look at the stories of Samuel, King Saul, and King David. These books are rich in wisdom on life, leadership, politics, and spiritual intimacy with God.

If I do this, I will do a 60-minute early morning Bible study for a smaller number of people, and then an evening mid-size community version (90 minutes). I am still thinking and praying about this.

I am excited about what life can be like as our congregation is soaked and saturated with God’s Word, and then learning how to pray and worship according to what we discover in the Scriptures.

I am a voracious reader all year long, and this summer is no exception. In addition to the commentaries and studies on Ephesians and 1 and 2 Samuel, here is some of my early summer reading:

Costly Grace: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship by Jon Walker (recommended to me by Gordon Carpenter)

Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World by James Emery White

Evangelical, Sacramental, & Pentecostal: Why the Church Should Be All Three by one of my favorite authors, Gorton T. Smith

What Christians Ought to Believe: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine Through the Apostles’s Creed by Australian theologian, Michael Bird

The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher (a prophetically challenging look at where our culture is heading and what the church needs to do)

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder

Strange Days: Life in the Spirit in a Time of Upheaval by Mark Sayers (another favorite author, I try to read anything he writes. This one has the same concerns as The Benedict Option, only a different way to respond.)

Flourishing by Miroslav Volf (I read this a few years ago, but decided it needed a re-read.)

Reading good books fills my mind and heart with ideas that simmer and marinate, and eventually are delivered out to you in blogs, lessons, or sermons.

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With that said, I do find time through the summer for some R&R. I have a few mini-vacations planned through the summer.

I am also looking forward to August when several missional friends are in York for some strategic envisioning and praying about next steps.

I am psyched about 900 for 90. Quite a few of our staff are making commitments to partnering with various ministries at work in York. I am trying to get to know many of these ministries, but my heart is certainly captured by two or three of them.

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Our God is an Awesome God.
I love Christ.
I am grateful for the calling to be your lead pastor.
I am thankful for the leadership team that God has called to lead us into the future.

May your summer be full and flourishing,
Pastor Brian

Brian Rice

Brian Rice

What I love most about my job:

Having the ability to empower and resource leaders to bear much fruit that lasts. Being a part of a team of friends and missional servants committed to changing the world.
Brian Rice