Visit a Church This Summer

by Rick Hamlin | I was able to worship with a head and heart free of distractions in a congregation of strangers who didn’t seem all that strange. After all, we were all brothers and sisters in Christ.

Traveling this summer? Out on the road? Taking a vacation? No need to make it a vacation from church. Try dropping in on a congregation away from home.

I’ll admit the first time I visited a church on a summer day far away from my own church, I wondered what had gotten into me. Was it a guilty conscience? Or just a healthy dose of curiosity?

The place was practically empty when I arrived–oh, the pews filled up as time went by–and I didn’t know a soul. Nor did anyone know me.

That can be a blessing. Nobody came up to me with urgent church business in mind; nobody asked me why I wasn’t at such-and-such a meeting last week, and I didn’t for a minute wonder why so-and-so was or wasn’t in church.

I was able to worship with a head and heart free of distractions in a congregation of strangers who didn’t seem all that strange. After all, we were all brothers and sisters in Christ.

We sang, we prayed, we listened to a sermon, we heard Scripture. And at the end I shook hands with my new friends. They even recommended a great restaurant to try.

Since then I have made it a practice, whenever possible, to go to church on Sunday morning wherever vacation takes me.

I have stood on sandy beaches for worship with the waves lapping at our toes. I have sat in stunning historic buildings, gazing up at dazzling stained glass windows, admiring gracious Gothic arches.

I have sung with guitars and drums and sung with pipe organs. I have been in thunderous congregations among thousands in bleacher seats. And I have been part of early morning congregations where there were only a handful of us.

Have I been welcomed? Always. Have I felt awkward? Sure. But there’s always been someone there to guide me or hand me a bulletin or give me the right psalm book or hymnal.

Rick Hamlin is the executive editor of Guideposts magazine and the author of 10 Prayers You Can't Live Without. To learn more about the book and explore your own prayer journey,  watch this video.