by Jess Dahl, Resonate Ellensburg staff
Most of us view summer as time off. While this may start with well-earned intentions of rest, the fact is time off from school, a lighter workload, family vacations, and back-to-back road trips can accidentally lead to taking time off from depth.
Don’t get me wrong, I crave my time in the sun catching up on articles on my phone and listening to the new summer jams as much as the next person. However, if that is all I am doing with my summer, that is a problem. It can quickly lead to restlessness and apathy. Here are a few issues with the lie of summer apathy:
Summer apathy leads to a fall identity crisis. Viewing life with seasons of time on or off lead to that dreaded feeling a few months down the road when the alarm that starts “real life” goes off and we feel empty and unprepared. Why do we let ourselves escape so deeply into apathy and avoidance that we start to separate “real life” from whatever it is we’re doing in the summer? This way of viewing summer is rooted in escapism and a sweet lie that leads to emptiness.
Summer apathy leads to soul stagnancy. Humans were made to grow, not regress. And despite what we feel to be true, those are the only options. We don’t stay at neutral, typically there is either attrition (gradually wearing down and growing weak) or growth. Attrition takes zero work or intentionality. It is a natural thing over time: the wear and tear of our health, our minds, our souls. Growth, however, only comes from nourishment. Growth comes from finding rhythms and fighting for intentionality. It’s not fair but it’s science.
So how do we fight the lie of summer apathy? How do we rest and refuel our way to a summer of joy and growth, not one that leads us to hating who we have become in the fall and dreading the life that is before us? Jesus came to give life and life to the full, not to give us a temporary escape that leaves us living in fear or false identities.
After many years of the summer break schedule, I so often see myself and my friends regress back into old habits, old patterns, old cages that were never meant to have a hold on us. It is the saddest thing when those same friends who found life in Christ during the school year come back from a summer at home having forgotten who they were created to be. Some fight the lies built up over summer and regain that ground, placing their identity back in their relationship with Christ. Some stay in their old identity that summer apathy produced and flounder to find that life, hope, family and future in the church so they continue to search for it in other things. It sounds extreme but it may be that our souls are at stake this summer.
It takes intentionality to combat the sweet lie of summer. It takes surrounding yourself with resources and creating rhythms. It takes surrounding yourself with people who are fighting for growth, denying the lie that we can escape real life for two months and come out on the other end unscathed.
The teaching team has put together a personal reading list for growth this summer. Each member has picked one book to recommend that has challenged them lately, refreshed them, or given them new insight into the Christian life. As we travel, as we drive, as we carve out afternoons in the sun, let us commit to growing in knowledge and truth together as a church. Recently, our Resonate staff was challenged with reading a chapter a day for 30 days. What if you take that same challenge this summer, using time before or after work in the sun to feed your soul and mind?
Fuel and the Flame by Steve Shadrach
This book, more than any I’ve read, has given practical, ground-level advice and strategy for reaching the college campus. With decades of campus experience and hundreds of stories to tell, Shadrach helps you dream big dreams for your small place on the college campus. While the theoretical missional strategy of guys like Hirsch and Frost is helpful and paradigm shifting, Fuel and the Flame will help you make those theories into a reality.
-Preston Rhodes, Teaching Team Member
Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot
This book tells an up-close account of the missionary preparation and practice of Jim & Elisabeth Elliot and the team of missionaries to Ecuador reaching the Huaorani (aka Auca) tribe. Five men were unexpectedly killed by the tribe the first time meeting them face-to-face, but the wives (Elisabeth included) went back to share the love of the Gospel with them.
-David Royall, Teaching Team Member
Work as Worship
Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller
This book explores how to “work as unto the Lord,” bringing glory to God through our jobs. Much more than having a job just to make money, and even beyond sharing the Gospel at your workplace, God has called us to bring flourishing to the world through our work.
-David Royall, Teaching Team Member
Reaching Out by Henri Nouwen
Anyone could read this book: a seasoned believer, a seminary student, a new believer, or someone who knows nothing about theology. It was completely refreshing. Simple yet utterly profound, which cannot be said of every theological book I love. It’s a feast!
The book is divided into three movements of spiritual growth:
1) Our relationship with ourselves. Exploring the inner life and allowing God to convert loneliness into stillness/solitude with Him.
2). Community (knowing others), and allowing God to convert our inner hostilities into hospitality. Facing head on our insecurities and compulsions to compete and control others and allow God to transform us into those who create spaces in our relationships where others can come in and discover God.
3) Our relationship with God. Knowing God and allowing Him to convert our illusions of control and immortality into a life of honest, genuine prayer.
I feel like this book fleshes out the heart of Resonate’s mission: to know Jesus and to draw others into communion with Him.
-Ann Scallorn. Teaching Team Contributor
Weight of Glory and Other Addresses by C.S. Lewis.
The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen
Devotional Classics by Richard Foster and James Smith
-Billy Schmuck, Teaching Team Contributor
Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
This is my favorite book. It is intended to change the way you live as a married person, but it really speaks to every relationship in your life. College kids must read this because the way you date and marry will greatly affect the rest of your life. God puts relationships in your life not to make you happy, but to make you holy. If you can harness that in your love life and friendships, your marriage with be a force for the Kingdom.
-Connor Kerr, Teaching Team Contributor
Dance Stand Run by Jess Connolly
While it’s geared towards women, I think it’s beneficial to every Christian. The premise is that we should Dance in Grace, Stand in Holiness, and Run on Mission. Books often focus on only one of these three topics, so to have them so artfully combined was very thought-provoking and helpful practically!
-Nicole Kelp, Teaching Team Administrator
You Are What You Love by James K.A. Smith
The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning
-Josh Martin, Teaching Team Director
Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
This book is written by 2 Navy SEALs who have tons of real life leadership experience, both in combat and in the private sector. They cover the topic of taking complete ownership of the team that you lead and expand on how it applies to leadership. It will transform the way you lead and the effectiveness of your team.
-Benjamin Lam, Teaching Team contributor
Every Day Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis
Written by the same guys from the UK who wrote Total Church (another good read), this book is an easy and very practical read explaining the functions and role of every believer in the Church. It is written in a postmodern context where church is no longer a place you go but an empowered group of people. It gives big vision for the future of the American church, acknowledging that when pushed to the sidelines of culture, it forces all of us to live in everyday mission and everyday community. It really aligns with who Resonate is as a church and where we are headed. Sometimes it’s helpful to hear it from someone else, and know that we aren’t the only ones trying to live this way.
-Jess Dahl, Teaching Team Member