The “everyone is on vacation, anything goes church service,” AKA tomorrow.

(I can’t believe we’ve been kicking around this site for 6 years. It’s become a tradition that 4th of July weekend I repost the piece that started the Skittles running joke and let the cat out of the bag about how church is going to be. Consider this your guide to what’s going to happen at your church tomorrow if you live in the United States.)

It is a poorly kept secret that the weekend before or after a big holiday, your church is going to do things a little differently than on most Sundays. That is, with a large portion of the congregation out on vacation, they’re going to mix it up a little.

For instance, at a lot of churches, the younger ministers are always asked to preach the day before Memorial Day. Senior pastors know that it’s a lot safer to have some rough-around-the-edges minister saying something crazy to 400 people than 800 people. Same goes with music. Go tomorrow (in the United States) and you’re bound to see some guy who’s always been in the background step forward for a totally unexpected guitar solo. Or a woman that’s always wanted to lead worship will suddenly be behind the mic for the first time.

I call it “Vacation Weekend Syndrome” or VWS. (Not to be confused with DVS)

And because I am a huge dork, I thought I would offer 8 ways your church can spice up tomorrow and avoid VWS:

1. Controversy
Since a lot of folks won’t be in church because they are out on vacation, use this opportunity to address all of the most controversial issues. Talk about politics, popular books, and anything else that otherwise would get the crowd riled up and upset. That way, whenever someone says, “I wish this church was not so seeker-focused and dealt with some of the tough issues,” you can reply, “You must have not been here for obamadrugssex Sunday.”

2. Snakes
Ever thought about incorporating some pit vipers into your service? Why not on the Sunday when everyone is out of town? I don’t know where you can buy a “bag o’ rattlers” but surely someone near you sells poisonous snakes. By the way, I don’t mean to be selfish, but it would really help me out if someone could invite me to a church service where they handled snakes. I’m dying to write about that but won’t unless I’ve actually gone to a service.

3. Church Sumo Wrestling
At every church there are little church politics that no one wants to talk about. The worship minister wants to do more modern songs than the pastor will allow. The elders think the pastor needs to do more Old Testament and less Seinfeld references. The janitor is still mad at everyone over the “glue incident” of 1978. Get those big blow-up sumo costumes you can rent, a huge tube of bootleg jello (this a church after all), and then have everyone settle their differences. How cool would it be to see the super happy pastor’s wife leg drop the super grumpy elder that is always a jerk to her husband?

4. Skittles
Why not throw Skittles out during the service? Instead of saying, “watch this” or “listen to this” or “are you tracking with me” or another phrase that is designed to get people’s attention, why not throw handfuls of skittles at them? Wouldn’t you love to be hit in the side of the head with a bunch of fruit candy delightfulness? I would.

5. Weird instruments
Ever wondered what an accordion and triangle version of the song, “I Can Only Imagine” would sound like? Got a kid in youth group that is really good at beat box? Do you need more cowbell but are afraid most people would hate it? Well, they’re all on vacation. Get the accordion out. It’s go time.

6. Practice Christmas
Next to Easter, the Christmas service might be the most important one you do. So why not do a dry run in July and make sure everything goes well? Just consider it a practice. Do the candles with kids, hang some holly, sing carols, do the whole thing up. Then, that way, when the real Christmas rolls around, you’ll be ready. Don’t tell anyone it’s a practice. Just do it as if it’s a normal thing to do. The look on the face of your visitors and members who show up and find themselves singing “Oh Holy Night” in the middle of the summer will be worth it.

7. Haikus
Do the entire sermon in haiku. It’s not as hard as you think. Here’s an example: Jesus was so cool (5 syllables) He gave His life for our sins (7 syllables) Let’s be close to him (5 syllables)

8. Have an “SCL Sunday”
Why not throw a “Stuff Christians Like” service? We’ll play Sandi Patty and Michael W. Smith songs. We’ll take a love offering and interlink our fingers when we hold hands. We’ll get a puppet group, named “Strings of Mercy,” to come do the Noah’s Ark story and then I’ll speak. It will be fantastic.

I would do some pop and lock breakdancing tomorrow in the hallway if Cross Point did any one of these ideas. If they don’t, I’m going to do that mime move where you pretend to be stuck in an invisible box. Mime is the opposite of breakdancing.

p.s. There are two things that go without saying: 1. I can’t promise that your church will use any of these tips. 2. I can promise that the church I start, GracePointeLifeTruthHouseNorthRiverElevate, will use all of them.

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Comments

  1. Heidi says

    Most of our staff will be out of town tomorrow, including the pastor ( my husband). So, yeah, we are shaking things up for sure. I wonder if I can rent sumo suits last minute….

  2. Zack Goertzen says

    Kinda shows American misplaced priorities doesn’t it? July 4th celebrations win over church attendance- country allegiance over faith? Seems a bit amiss.

    • spacegal2003 says

      I’m not sure that taking a vacation on a long weekend means you prioritize country over God. I think it just means you know how to be a good steward of your vacation days. Besides, you can still go to church when out of town.

  3. Keith says

    As the guy preaching tomorrow…sigh. Unfortunately for our church I am preaching on the reliability of scripture. The 75% who show up tomorrow are the people who need no help on this issue. We are in the midst of pastoral sabbatical so we have a whole “summer of love” where anything goes!!!!! I am thinking of throwing green skittles at everybody since I don’t like Green Apple. What were they thinking going away from lime?

  4. coolio says

    Our church does VBS the week after the fourth. We launch on Sunday morning, so the entire church is decorated. We block off the back pews of the church with decor, which freaks out all the old people. We do motions to music, we don’t allow the choir to sing, we have weird trees and animals covering the stage, and we start the service with the MC making a crazy entrance.

    We are all, but guaranteed at least one heart attack tomorrow at our little conservative baptist church.

  5. dawn alexander says

    I got hit in the head with a red fish candy this week at church kid camp! lol! The kids go crazy over candy on the floor…not sure how it would go with adults mixed in!

  6. Tina says

    I’m the fill-in preacher this weekend while the youth and Sr. Pastor arenat youth convention. I’m bringing Spiderman. That’ll teach ‘em.

  7. says

    It really is all about my comfort zone, isn’t it?

    We will have a lightly attended service…even lighter than usual I’m sure.

    But we will proclaim God’s law (and hard – no messin’ around)…and then we will hand Christ and His forgiveness for the ungodly folks in the pews. And then He will cram Himself and His love and assurance for us , down our throats in His Supper.

    And then we’ll head back out the door and slip back into the mud puddles again and make a mess of things, more or less (hopefully less, but who knows?)…until we can drag our bloodied selves back to the next lightly attended service the following week.

  8. Tanya says

    “How cool would it be to see the super happy pastor’s wife leg drop the super grumpy elder that is always a jerk to her husband?”

    The very thought of this has given some pastor’s wives a belly laugh! bwa ha ha!

    • Bee says

      I’m not even a pastors wife and I would love to see this solely for the pastors and their wives I always feel horrible for how many annoying people they have to deal with in ministry.

    • hannah says

      I understand how ya feel about the cross, others have felt that way, too however if I were the Jesus, I’d feel tired of being reminded of the cross and aim for somethin’ like EmptyTomb, what do you think?

      • Marcia Hornok says

        How interesting that two extremely negative words, when put together, form the ultimate positive concept.

  9. Miranda says

    Our church isn’t even meeting at the church tommorow, we’re getting twith another church at the beach for church and ocean baptisims! No skittles but there will be strawberry cotton candy

  10. Cheryl says

    I love this! Wonder how many time my husband would have to be hit with Skittles before he stopped dozing. ;-)

  11. Jennifer says

    Know what my church does?

    They combine the Sunday services…for a Sanctus Real concert.

    Boom. Take that, people who like to skip on holiday weekends.

  12. Becky says

    We visited a church while on vacation in June and they did have a Christmas service – complete with trees!

  13. Bee says

    These are epic. Although I for one would plead for the pastor to throw M&M’s. I like chocolate better.

    This post is hysterical and heartbreaking at the same time because it actually does hit too close to home in some churches.

  14. Kimberly Quinn says

    We didn’t do skittles but we did have edible illustrations once…..popcorn and soda if I remember….and yes chocolate…We have a man in our church that raps usually twice or three times a year, sometimes for special occasions but not on vacation Sundays, just whenever the worship feels like it would be good, and it is. TJ is awesome! I told him anyone who can make a middle aged white woman with no rhythm like rap is good.

  15. says

    I referenced hustling and Jon in my most recent blog post. I forgot to hyperlink the “click here” so people could learn more about both. I was going to link it to START but SCL popped up. I decided to catch up on posts. Best decision this week.

  16. Bronwyn says

    I live a long way from family. I’m the person who is never in my normal church on the holidays. That being said I frequent my family church at those times. My mum’s church is fond of the lucky door rewards on holidays. Books, flowers, chocolates… There’s always a prize to be won for some holiday appropriate reason (just a few I’ve seen given out longest distance travelled, most grandkids, new mum, oldest member of the congregation today). I feel a bit like there is bribery happening.

    As you lead with the fact that this is a repost I feel kind of awkward making improvement suggestions. I just noticed that drop a few words and you have back to back haikus:

    Sermon in haiku. (5) It’s not as hard as you think. (7) Here’s an example (5)

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