Participation is the lifeblood of the church.  Without it….there is no ekklesia.  I recently came across this challenging statement that has greatly challenged me and our growing church as we head into the summer months:

“You are not on a biblical path to spiritual growth if you are not a participating member of a local church.” (H.B. Charles Jr.)

Wow!  That is blunt…but so true.

Here are five ways that I recently shared with our church that we can “participate” in our local church:

Participate in PRAYING.

The world, the flesh, and the devil do not take off the summer; they often conduct an all-out assault during these months toward the leadership and ministry of your church! As some recently shared with me, “Don’t put your pastor on a pedestal where he can be knocked off; put him on your prayer list where he can be lifted up.”  Without selfless prayer for your local church this summer, your personal growth will be stunted from experiencing heaven-sent revival/renewal through powerful teaching, preaching, and ministry that only God can send in answer to those prayers.

Participate in ATTENDING.

Your goal should be to be in church every SUNDAY this summer! (Today, that is unfortunately considered a radical statement to many.)  Yes, even the Sunday or two you are gone on vacation-be in another local New Testament church and let your pastor and other church leaders know “where you are at.”  Remember that your days and family were assembled by God, not to just “make memories” but to make much of the Lord through the worship and ministry of the assembly.  Faithful participation in a visible, local church this summer can never be adequately replaced with a radio station, podcast, online community/personality, family gatherings, devotional/book series, blog, retreat, or any other “wholesome” but insufficient substitute.

Participate in SERVING.

Don’t “take the summer off.”  Rooms still need cleaning.  Nurseries still need staffed.  Classes still need taught.  Music still needs played and sung.  Sermons still need preached.  All this must be done with the same preparation and poise as the rest of the year.  How much will be done this summer if everyone in your church has your mindset?  Be the church member who can be most counted on to fulfill their responsibilities faithfully and fill holes created by vacations/etc.  You are not a tourist seeking for pleasure; you are a pilgrim seeking a kingdom which is not of this world including all that is found in its summer months.

Participate in GIVING.

With online options through your bank and church, you have no valid excuse to skip giving even with the flux in summer schedules.  The costly bills and opportunities for your local church do not go away and often increase during the months of prime ministry expansion.  (Have you ever done the math on what it costs your church to fund every minute of the weekly services that you benefit from-are you giving as much as you should to not just “pay” for your benefits but also for the benefit of another who cannot?)  During the Memorial Golf Tournament in Dublin, Ohio this past week, the great golfer Jack Nicholas stated, “Put more into the game of golf than you take out of it.”  Don’t be a taker; be a giver.  For your local church to be vibrant and viable by the end of the summer requires much finances, time, and ministry to be given during the summer.  Don’t forget that.

Participate in INVITING.

I am amazed out how self-focused we tend to become during the summer months.  My family.  My time off.  My dream trip.  Do your plans this summer reflect the gripping reality that people will die and go to hell as much over the next few months as any other time of the year?  Will your plans include consideration for many who are wandering and hopelessly looking for somewhere to belong and believe.  Who will be saved, growing in their faith, connected to a community of believers later this year because of your summer of passing out tracts and invites to our church? Develop the following mindset: you are not prepared for Sunday, even Sundays in the summer, until someone new has been invited.  By the way, the Sunday that your guest is in church will find you caring very much about these other summer levels of participation and how they reflect upon your church and more importantly the gospel.

Those who intentionally participate in their local church over the summer will be, along with everyone they influence, further along spiritually THAN THOSE WHO DON’T!  As Dr. Paul Chappell stated recently, ““You do not have to go to church to be a Christian, [but] you do not have to go home to be married either.”  (Here is a link to the video clip.)  Church is a necessary habitat for growth for EVERY Christian-your relationship with God suffers when you are delinquent.  Don’t allow me or anyone else advocating for “just backing off for a few months” to convince you otherwise. The motivation of this post and any similar sentiment from your own pastor is not just to benefit the institution of the church or pad the status of the leadership; it is for your spiritual growth and every other person taking their local church participation cues from you.

Where you “are at with the Lord” come fall largely depends upon where you were at every time your God-given church met and ministered throughout this summer!!!

Remember, “You are not on a biblical path to spiritual growth if you are not a participating member of a local church”…even during these summer months!