It is Memorial Day, which basically means that whether you like it or not… summer is officially here. The big news for those of us that live in Oklahoma –> tornado season is officially over!!
It is also the time of year that families take vacations, kids go to camps, churches do Vacation Bible School, and some folks take a mission trip.
In the midst of all of this busy-ness, what is your Sunday School or small group going to do?
Here are 6 suggestions to help your group not only survive but thrive and get ready for a great fall season after summer ends.
- Plan a great summer fellowship. That’s right, pick a Saturday evening, go to someone’s house and barbecue some ribs or have a fish fry. Throw some butcher table on the outdoor tables and invite the whole group over for shrimp or crawfish. Or maybe have a homemade ice cream fellowship. The weather is great, so get outdoors.
- Do not cancel any group meetings because “most of the group will be gone on Sunday.” It is almost guaranteed that the Sunday your group decides not to meet is the day that three families that just moved into the neighborhood decide to attend a church service and go to YOUR small group. The chances are also high that the pastor will build your group up to dizzying heights to these guests as he leads them to your room and then opens the door to a dark, empty void.
- Utilize your associate teacher. Remember that leader that you have been grooming to teach in your absence and/or start a new group? Honor them and ask them to lead the group and teach the Bible study on the Sunday or two that you take vacation. Do NOT combine your group with another group. That is a bad practice that will eventually become a bad habit. Combining groups also defeats the purpose of having an associate teacher in the first place, not to mention how deflating it is to the associate.
- Stay in touch with your group members. It is tempting to assume that the Smith family has been out for three weeks because they must be on vacation. Something may have happened and your group will be missing an opportunity to minister to the Smiths.
- Do some type of group outreach. Outreach? During the summer? Yes, believe it or not, lost people do not go into hibernation during the summer. Let me share an idea with you that will endear your group to the pastor and children’s ministry plus provide evangelistic outreach. Enlist some volunteers from your group to do one or two of the following: a) serve in Vacation Bible School; b) follow up on families of kids that attended your church’s VBS.
- But most importantly – continue the ministry of your group! Summer does not necessarily that attendance will be low all summer. Most group meetings will still be well attended. A 3 month break from ministering, leading, engaging, and involving your group means that you have surrendered 25% of the year!! Also: remember that your group takes its cues from the leader. If you are constantly blaming poor attendance on summer vacations etc., the people in the group who do attend will feel unappreciated; and may decide to take the summer off too.
Basically, summer is not a synonym for “spiritual holiday”. Over my years in ministry, I have noticed that groups that stay involved during the summer invariably have a stronger start when summer ends and school returns. So teach your group God’s Word, fellowship, minister to the group, invite guests, and see the summer months as a springboard to a great fall season instead of a nosedive into negativity.