four tips for finding a church while on vacation – because you were still planning on going, right?

It’s “summertimmmmme and the living is easssssy. Fish are jumping, and the cotton is highhhhh.”

Ok, I’ll let Ella finish it out.

Point is: It’s summertime, and you’re about to take a vacation. Lest you think that just because you’re not at home on Sunday means you get to check out from the life of the Church, please go straight to jail.

Do not pass Go.

And definitely, definitely do not collect $200.

We spend a lot of time planning our trips: where to gorge on funnel cakes, what the best pirate-themed mini golf course is, how far the rental car agency is from the airport, when we have to get up in the morning and how late we can stay up at night.

This year, can you promise me you’ll spend as much time planning where you’ll go to church if you’re gone on a Sunday?

C’mon.

Do it for me.

And for your pastor.

But really for you. After all, Jesus is there to forgive your sins. You probably don’t want to miss that. 

1) Start with the church directory. (We also have an app for your smart phone, so really there’s no excuse.) There’s 6,000 congregations in the LCMS. There’s going to be one within driving distance of wherever it is you’re headed.

Unless you’re climbing Mt. Everest. In that case, observe the Sabbath, give your sherpa a break, and start your climb on  Monday.

2) Look for the liturgy.

What do we mean by liturgy? So glad you asked.

You didn’t? I’ll tell you anyway.

“Not any sort of service in general is meant, but quite contritely the rite of the Lord’s Supper as the matrix and content of regular Gospel proclamation,” wrote the sainted Rev. Dr. Kurt Marquart. “This bifocal liturgical structure of sermon and sacrament forms the heart and core of ‘the whole worship of the New Testament,’ and is therefore the vital center or gathering point of the church’s public assemblies.”

(Additional upshot: One of the joys of the liturgy is that it never changes. We say back to Jesus what He already said to us: same thing, every week. And once you have that memorized, sliding into a pew at a different congregation won’t seem that different at all because you’ll already know how the service goes, what you’re singing and why! Liturgy ftw*!)

{That’s “Liturgy for the win!” for those of us who are culturally Amish.}

DSC_00113) Check out the Holy Communion statement. (Hint: It should be the Closed kind.)

Why? “The ‘holy things’ are the body and blood of Christ,” writes the Rev. Dr. Norman Nagel. “They are given into each communicant. They are then common in each one and so make the communion. We are never more at one with Christ and so at one with each other.”

So that sums up that.

4) If you’re already three for three, punch that address into your GPS! All of these are pretty good indicators of a faithful pastor and congregation, and you can pretty much expect that the congregation and her pastor will be doing things in accordance with God’s Word, loving the Catechisms, teaching about the Confessions, serving up sticky donuts and scalding hot coffee.

And other similar good stuff.

But it doesn’t hurt to do some sleuthing Inspector Gadget-style on the website anyway. If nothing else, you may just find a few good sermons posted there! And who doesn’t want to read more of the good stuff?

If you’ve done your homework and found the church that you’ll be attending while on vacation, in between ballpark nachos and bumper boats, you can always ask your pastor to call ahead. He’ll more than likely be happy to talk to the pastor of the congregation that you’re going to visit, to let him know that you’re members in good standing, and that you’d like to receive the Lord’s Supper while you’re there.

Plus, bonus points! Your pastor will be relieved to know that you’ll be receiving God’s good gifts while you’re away from your home parish and the pastor of the congregation you’re visiting won’t have to worry that you’re Jehovah’s Witnesses doing recon in disguise.

Or something equally sketch.

So there you have it. Plan your vacation. Buy your swimsuits for the beach. Prep for your trail drive through the mountains. Stretch your stomach for ice cream every night. Plan where you’ll be in God’s house on Sunday. Load the kids in the swagger wagon. Things are about to get good.

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12 thoughts on “four tips for finding a church while on vacation – because you were still planning on going, right?

  1. We’re geeks who love to visit churches when we’re on vacation. We’ve had pretty good experiences mostly and it’s fun to meet Lutherans all over the place. Faithful people are everywhere, and it’s heartening. I like to read the church’s website, and if it’s something about community and people-servants and praise worship, I move on to the next one because there’s a good chance they don’t use the liturgy. The one that talks about the Confessions and liturgy and closed communion is a good bet. The one we visited in South Carolina last week actually asked us to email the pastor ahead of time in order to commune. Like Vanessa said, we don’t want our kids to get the message that vacation is vacation from the Lord’s house. It’s not even a thought in our family, and that’s just the way we want it.

  2. But the church directory doesn’t work if you end up at a COWO LCMS church and,,,, God forbid!!!! Yes! They do exist…. unfortunately…. :/

  3. This isn’t just helpful when on vacation, but for anyone that will be away from what they consider their home congregation – college students especially – transitioning to a new community with new churches!

  4. Professor Nagle hits is right on! It is the “Holy Things”, the true body and true blood, given for the remission of sins. And Professor Feuerhahn always stressed the “Holy Things’, as well as same-saying as your Lord’s Supper neighbor. There is an importance in saying as your neighbor. If communion is open communion, you do not know what your neighbor may believe. I clearly learned that the “I” centric worship (?) is no worship at all. One of my mentors names what is called “contemporary: as being contemptible “worship”, and it surely is.
    Liturgy, Word, Sacrament! What else do you need?
    B-t-w: If you skip. Go directly to the Brig! Be prepared to pay a fine of at least $200.00. When you repent of your indiscretion, confess your sin and you ask forgiveness, the Provost Martial will release you, and not until.

  5. Tragically, many LCMS churches don’t use the Liturgy … holy smokes folks … there are 5 Divine Service choices … not to mention Matins in LSB … a few less in LW and TLH … but then many of these congregations(and/or pastors) do not value the Word, faith and unity found in the historic Liturgy.

    While not a complete list of congregations, http://lutheranliturgy.org/ is a good place to start if you wish to avoid the disappointment of the “I” centered worship of many of the non liturgical contemporary congregations that claim unity of faith and practice that our beloved Synod once had.

  6. A FEW ;LINES RAN OVER EACH OTHER, BUT SHE IS DEF. LITURGY MINDED AND CONSERVATIVE. HA. JOAN TOMORROW i AM MEETING A HANNAH, FROM THE AUGUSTINE CHURCH. SHE LIVES OUT OFF STELLHORN RD. i HAVE A SMALL SECOND HAND GIFT FOR HER B/C HER NAME IS HANNAH. I MAY ALSO BRING SOME FRESH COOKIES.HER DAUGHTER GOES TO IPFW AND IS SO DELIGHTFUL. AND PRETTY. SO IS THE MOM. SHE HOPES NEXT YEAR TO GO TO THE YOUNG WOMEN REPS DELEGATION AT LWML CONVENTION. NOT SURE IF SHE WILL GO TO NATIONAL OR WAIT 2 YEARS TO GO TO BLOOMINGTON.. PURDUE HAD THE FIRST ONE. NOW IT IS THEIR TURN. DID YOU HEAR THAT THE MEETING WILL BE THE 18TH FOR LFL. STILL DON’T KNOW WHEN LIFE TEAM IS TO BE. JM

  7. All good points. I always check the issues etc church directory first, then try to find a church website, and tend to avoid churches that have a choice between “traditional” and “contemporary” services. Chances are, they don’t appreciate the liturgy, and it will be quite evident.

  8. This is part of our vacation planning as well. We want our kids to know that just because we are away from home does not mean we take a break from church. Though if there’s not a good confessional church in the area, we discuss with our pastor beforehand on what he recommends. When we took our family on a cruise we were sure to do family altar time and additional devotionals. 🙂 glad we have a pastor who stresses the importance of church attendance 🙂

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