The temptation of spring break.

For most schools around us, this week is “spring break.” It’s a week of great temptation.

Not for the kids who head to the south, free of parental constraints, susceptible to all kinds of appeals. Well maybe for them. But certainly for people who are left behind, who are still having events. Certainly for executive pastors of church who have nearly 27.7008% of their average attendance off somewhere else on the first Sunday morning of spring break week.

Certainly for me.

Our attendance was down about 200 from our 2011 average. And it is very tempting to focus on how many people are gone. It’s tempting to not teach as well, to not be as concerned about the details as usual. It’s tempting to not care as much.

After all, that’s 200 people who don’t care enough to be in church.

Wait. Did I actually say that?

  • Did I actually suggest that the measure of people is whether they show up in church?
  • Did I forget that five of those people are either in a hospital bed or standing next to it, wondering about the long-term implications of the stroke?
  • Did I forget that fifteen of those people are in Kentucky rebuilding a house for someone in our church’s annual version of extreme home makeover?
  • Did I forget that another fifteen of those people are in NYC, helping a couple churches there with kids’ stuff?
  • Did I forget that normal people actually do take vacation and have fun and rest, kind of like God designed us to do?
  • Did I forget the thirty people who helped me wrestle with understanding the pile of rocks Joshua pulled out of the Jordan?
  • Did I forget that there were still more than 500 people that I watched talking and laughing and singing and praying?

Briefly, yes.

I confess.


I wrote about prayer last night as a script for a TV show called “behind the scenes.” It’s 900 words, so I didn’t make it a post. You can read it here: One view of prayer

6 thoughts on “The temptation of spring break.

  1. Glenda

    Wow Jon, sounds like your congregration is actively living the way Jesus taught us to live rather than just showing up on Sundays to lïsten to it. Congrats!


  2. Frank Reed

    Interesting how looking at church numbers can be revealed as ‘majoring in the minors’.

    Very little of Jesus’ recorded ministry occurred in the temple. He was out and about and he was busy 7 days a week. That’s the biblical example of church. We are the body not the building. The church is made of flesh and bones rather than concrete and stones (If that is a new one to you I am claiming it!).

    Good to hear that you are putting feet on the streets as well as fannies in the seats! (Another one I am taking!).

    Take care, Jon.


  3. Joseph Ruiz

    Great reminder, thought of social media measurement. It’s an interesting topic. Measurement can be a good thing unless it becomes the driver and not the indicator of what is really going on; kind of like focusing on getting an A rather than the course content. I am also reminded how easy it is to judge to see only what is in front of me, to wallow in self pity and forget there is a bigger picture.

    Being the body of Christ and going to church are not always one and the same thing. I needed this reminder.
    Grace and Peace


  4. Rich Dixon

    As a former (not old) math teacher, numbers are both frightening and comfortable. We attend a BIG church (several thousand folks) and I always tease the pastor when he talks about numbers while stressing that we’re not about numbers. He hangs his head and tells me to keep it to myself.

    Felt the same as a teacher–didn’t care about test scores, except that I cared a lot. Jesus cared about the 1 instead of the 99, because the 99 were already safe. If they were in danger he’d have focused everything on protecting them.

    Not really sure what that says, except maybe that numbers are just one way (and certainly not the only way) to keep score when keeping score matters. But let’s never seek and serve numbers over relationships, because then the 1 will never matter as much as the 99.


  5. Jon Swanson

    I agree with you, Glenda and Diane. This is a great group of people. We forget that, or rather, I do, but I am so grateful. And I’m glad for your reminders.

    Frank, they are all yours. But I agree. Outside the walls is a great place. And Joe, I was thinking about how I measure readers, too. I try to remember to feed the ones who come rather than fretting about the ones that don’t. It makes me not very good about increasing subscriptions, but it makes me very grateful for you.

    Rich, you are right. Numbers are one measure. They tell me how many chairs to set up. But they can’t be a way to measure a conversation with you. Or the way that the conversation with someone yesterday turns into change in that person’s life.

    Thanks, all, for your encouragement.


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