Summer, for the viticulturist, is a time often referred to as “coasting.” A time for removing excess growth from the vine, for maximizing sunlight on the grapes, and for ensuring that maturing fruit remains healthy until harvest. Coasting is about keeping going on acquired momentum. But not forever.

For those of us who lead in the church, whether pastor or lay volunteer, summer looks like Vacation Bible School, kids and family camps, and (gasp!) much needed family vacations. But summer is also an opportunity for one’s spirit to “coast.” A time to reflect on seasons past, to trim back acquired excesses that impede spiritual growth, to maximize daily exposure to the Son-light so essential to a healthy lifestyle, to examine the present condition of the Spirit’s fruitfulness in one’s life, to re-establish clear boundaries of emotional, physical and spiritual vitality, and to keep going on already acquired momentum. But only so far.

Summer’s “coasting” has its defined purpose as a valuable part of one’s life. That is why “coasting seasons” are also intended not only to be times of rest and recreation, but seasons of preparation. Still ahead we see the hard work of harvest, the cold winds of winter, and the rain clouds of early spring.

The work of the church is like that. It is why we must include in our summer’s day a time for prayer, reflection and renewal, mix in with our golf game a reading list of books, plan ahead our teaching / preaching schedule for the seasons that are coming. Prepare people for what’s ahead in life’s winters of hardship, disappointment, even death. Sure, these may seem far away in the warmth of a summer’s day, but they are upon us before we know it.

“Coasting” has an important place in the life of the church, and an even more important place in the lives of church leaders. It reminds us to not allow apathy to ruin what might have been, had we been fully present in the God-intended aspects of our lives. It gives hope that we can still effect change and make a difference, doing all we can do while we still have strength. The apostle James’ challenge is ever in our ears, “So it is a sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it.” (James 4:17) The Psalmist concurs, “Let Your work be seen by Your servants, and Your splendor by their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us; establish for us the work of our hands — establish the work of our hands! (Psalm 90:16,17).

So, with God’s blessing, I invite you to join me in “coasting” through this summer season in order that we can truly become agents of change, making a difference, cultivating and expanding the kingdom of God in our lifetime.

W

PS. As a part of your summer preparation, plan to join us for the bi-annual 2013 CASA Network Leadership Conference, November 6-8, in Dallas, Texas. Take advantage of the special group conference and hotel rates and bring your staff and volunteer leaders with you. Don’t miss out. This event will change the way you look at ministry to those at midlife and beyond!