Let's be clear, this is not a nagging, legalistic, finger-pointing injunction to join a church service while you are on holiday. In fact there are plenty of good reasons not to. But still, I want to offer you five reasons why taking the time to join in will enrich you, perhaps your family and maybe even those that you visit.
There's no place like home
I love our local church. It's 700 metres from our house and filled with people whom we bump into in the street throughout the week. Our church has been a great support to our family and especially our foster children. It's not perfect – sometimes our sermons are a bit boring (especially when they are mine) and our musicians are probably not going to be releasing a best selling worship EP anytime soon. But when we're on holiday I love taking the family to visit new churches. I have gotten it wrong on plenty of occasions – like the time on a visit to Malaysia when the preacher spoke for 90 minutes. But even when I get it wrong, it helps our children to appreciate our little local church and the people that know and love them there so much more.
The Church is bigger than you think
So the worst that can happen is that you go to a church that makes your local church look brilliant. But sometimes, great things can happen when you visit another church. You may get to experience another denomination or culture's way of worshipping together that opens your eyes to a richer and fuller experience of God. I had the opportunity to visit a 5am prayer meeting in Korea on a Saturday morning and there were thousands of people up before dawn in order to seek God. I found it an incredibly moving experience that will stay with me for a long time.
We have lots to learn from our brothers and sisters around the world. In our local congregation we quickly get drawn into the micropolitics of church life and too quickly forget the wider world. Visiting a church on holiday can help us to experience God in a fresh way, and remind us to hold the global church in our hearts.
We don't take a break from being Christian
Holidays are a gift from God – even the name betrays their spiritual origins. Holy days are part of the rhythm of work and rest; a rhythm that God intended for human flourishing. We don't holiday from God, we holiday with God, and so it makes all the sense in the world for us to meet with His people during our vacation.
Become aware of your cultural blinkers of Christianity
I admit it, when we're in a rush and we have lots of hungry mouths to feed our family has ended up in McDonalds on holiday. There was good local fare on offer and yet we have taken the easy option. If you do visit a church on holiday, try to avoid the church's that are just like the ones you have back home. If you do, there's more chance for you to experience something different. It's risky – it could go badly wrong like that 90 minute sermon – but it could be something wonderful that helps you to recognise that some of things we do in church owe more to our culture than to our gospel.
Bless the wider church
So far we have seen the ways that your faith and your relationship with God can be helped by visiting a church whilst on holiday. But the most important reason for visiting a church in another country is that by going you could be a blessing to others. If you are on holiday in Europe, the Church there is facing many challenges and your presence coupled with a word of encouragement or a prayer of blessing could make a real difference to a church in need.