"So does your attendance go up in the summer?" When other clergy find out that I am serving on Cape Cod, this is a common question. I have been told that the population in Falmouth triples in size during the summer. People take residence in summer homes and time shares. Tourists come through to spend time on our beaches. For anyone involved in a business, summer is the high point of the Cape economy.
I would like to say that this is reflected in Sunday worship but it is rarely the case that summer attendance matches what we see in the fall or spring. Like any other congregation, various members will be on vacation on any particular summer Sunday. We have a few visitors who come for a single Sunday while on vacation. We have a few people who only come in the summer. It seems to me that we see the most visitors in the fall when Midwestern Lutherans wanting to avoid the crowds come and join us.
My internship supervisor had strong beliefs about the weather and worship. I remember how, as we were robing up for worship, he would look out the sacristy window and say, "It's sunny. There won't be too many in church today." The next Sunday he would look out the window and say, "It's rainy. Pews are going to be light" Another Sunday, he would say, "It's awfully cold. Probably won't be many here." Being on the Cape a beautiful summer morning leads people to the beach and not the pew. Is it proper to pray for cloudy, temperate Sundays without precipitation?
The end of summer on the Cape feels like a return to normalcy for residents. The traffic lightens and only school buses slow us down. The beaches are clear of tourists and dogs can frolic in the waves. The regular crew comes back to church and Sundays feel a little more predictable. In spite of being in a center for tourism, we seem to the follow the patterns of the churches of New York and Pennsylvania where I previously served; the patterns of a Midwestern Lutheran childhood. So our attendance does not go up in the summer, no matter how much I pray for cloudy Sundays.