August Lay Ministry Blog: Time to Start to School


Each year about the first of August, we start hearing the ads, people talking and all kind of signs that school is getting ready to start for children, youth and college students.

Even though it is still hot and summer is in full bloom, there is a hint of fall weather and the days are starting to shorten in daylight.

All the merchants that sell school supplies are advertising bargains for the supplies students need for the new school year. Now, this includes electronics, as well as, pens and paper.

Many communities have tax-free weekends for the school supplies, which include clothes and all kinds of household supplies as well.

Students and their parents are squeezing the last vacation trips to the beach, mountains, and lakes or just out of town to see relatives and friends.

Teachers are in the same mode as the students, as they are getting ready for a new class and making all kinds of plans needed in teaching their new students.

In writing this article I can almost hear the sounds of football, and the feeling of excitement building for the first games in August for high school and Labor Day for college.

Wouldn’t it be nice, if we of the United Methodist Community of North Alabama could feel the same excitement about returning to a regular schedule of worship at our churches, Sunday schools, small groups and all other church related events?

I guess our clergy wonder each September if the attendance will be as good as last fall and just hope all who have drifted away from regular church attendance in the summer will return.

Things have really changed with the advent of our busy schedules. Vacation Bible School and trips to Camp Sumatanga which at one time consumed a week or even longer each summer, are now squeezed into a day or two. Vacation Bible School is now for the most part a night event for three or four days in the middle of a week that doesn’t interfere with any other summer events.

Some of the older people that read this will remember the summer revivals that were held in a tent by an evangelist traveling from town to town holding services that attracted Christians of all denominations. Now if you see one of these tent revivals, it sends the message of a nondenominational evangelist, trying to scratch out a living by holding a tent meeting. We drive right by and have the feeling this is not for us. I’m afraid we are doing the same thing with our brick and mortar United Methodist Churches, driving by and saying this is not for us right now, maybe a little later, once the school year gets into full swing. Oh sure, we will get back to church, sometime this fall and for sure by Thanksgiving and Christmas.

No wonder our kids know very little about United Methodism and probably very little about the Bible.

Loyalty comes from buying into something whether it is a team, a project or any system that deserves respect. It bothers me that people don’t even respect our American flag and the only thing a lot of people know about the flag is hearing the Stars Spangled Banner sung before sporting events.

“Thanks be to God” that God does not take us as for granted as we take him.

So with the advent of a new school year, please let fall worship in our churches be as important as our new school year.

Please pray for our Conference, Bishop, all of our Districts and Local churches at this time of year.

Please remember Camp Sumatanga Sunday August 17 and support Camp Sumatanga with your Gifts and personal time this fall. Please put Camp Sumatanga in the Missions Budget at your local church for 2015.

God be with you this fall,
Steve Lyles
Conference Lay Leader

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