Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summer Study Break

Brian is an old friend who happens to pastor a megachurch.  The eight or nine years that separate us were far more significant when I was almost thirty and he had just finished college.  Back then I was more of the mentor and he was the eager learner.  Now, thirty years later, the age difference is hardly significant.  I am forever grateful for what he has taught me.

One of the critical things I learned from Brian is something he called his "Summer Study Break."  "It's not a break to study," he commented, "It's a break from study."  He went on to explain his need to recharge his preaching batteries each summer.  At the time, he would take about six weeks away from preaching.  He continued on with his other duties of leading and pastoring, but had others preach in his stead during those weeks.

My first Summer Study Break was several years ago.  I have enjoyed one almost every year since.  Inevitably this season leads to some questions to which I will add my answers...

1. Are you enjoying your vacation? A: I'm not breaking from work, just from the creative cost of sermon prep.

2. What do you have to do all day since you don't have to prepare?  A: plenty!  I spend my life in meetings, most of them for planning what we do around here.  I help mentor some younger pastors.  In addition, I'm preparing for Children's Camp next week (I'm Camp Pastor) and for a conference where I'll speak later in the year.  Finally, I'm doing additional reading to fill up my emotional well.

3. I don't want to make a decision about this church until we have heard one of your sermons; when will you preach again?  A: I beg you, PLEASE never make a church membership decision because of the preaching of the Senior (or Lead) Pastor.  That treats the church like a retail outlet and makes you a consumer.  This is the Body of Christ.  Find the local church where He calls you and devote your life to Him there.

All that said, I am preaching twice in July, including this weekend.  I can't tell you how much I have gained from the other speakers in our "Ancient Relevance" series through the Old Testament book of Zechariah.  I am deeply grateful for our pastors John, Tom and Scott, along with Paul Cunningham and Don Vickers (who will preach in a couple of weeks).  They haven't just shared the load; they have stretched us and helped us grow in the faith.