Everyone seems to look forward to the summer—except perhaps small-group leaders. They dread watching everything they've built over the course of the year quickly evaporate with the heat of summer. They throw up their arms to summer and launch into thoughts on how to rebuild or restart the whole group again in the fall. But summer doesn't necessarily signal the demise of your group.
What everyone likes about summer is the change of pace. The evenings are longer. Kids are out of school. Days are a little more relaxed. And vacations are on everyone's mind. Why not use this change of pace to build into your small group?
Make Some Time
While many people travel during the summer, your group members won't be gone for the entire three months. During a May meeting, ask everyone to bring their calendars. Then, find six dates where your group can get together and possibly do a Bible study. You don't even need six weeks in a row. Just locate six dates out of three months and focus your group on experiencing Christ together this summer.
Some groups may not be up for another study during the summer. Our school days trained us to study for nine months and play for three. That's not a bad strategy for your group either. Why not spend the summer months playing together? Have a picnic or a lake day. Go camping together. Spend a day at the beach or in the mountains. Find a family-friendly theme park or zoo. Even a backyard barbecue, a golf outing, a shopping trip, or a fishing trip can really bond your group members together. Summer is a great time to enjoy the relationships that you have diligently built over the year.
In addition to fun and social times, why not serve together? You don't necessarily need a grand strategy. Just sit down with your group and talk about the needs they've observed in your community. How could your group reach out and serve this summer? Is there an elderly person with an overgrown yard? Your group could adopt him or her for the summer and work on the yard together. Is there a Sunday school teacher who could use a break? Your group could rotate leading the class and give the teacher a rest. As your group looks around, you'll be amazed at the number of ways you can use a little summer downtime to make a difference.
Another place to look is the neighborhood you meet in. Summer is the one season when everyone seems to emerge from their houses. Why not have a block party and invite the neighbors to join you? Make it a big event. Rent a bounce house for the kids. Barbecue some hot dogs. Then set everything up in your front yard. The neighborhood kids won't be able to resist. The parents will soon be following behind.
Maybe your group helped to start some other groups this past year. Why not have a reunion? Get everyone together from all of the groups that started out of your group. Have some food. Play some games. Then look at the number of people who are there. This will really give your group a great reward for stepping out in multiplying new groups. Plus, it's just great to get your original group back together.
Summer may not be the best stretch for a weekly Bible study, but the change of pace could be great for your group. Sit down with your group and make some plans. Then, do whatever your group agrees on. Fall will be here before you know it, and you can pick up your normal schedule then.
—Brett Eastman is the founder of LifeTogether. Used with permission. All rights reserved.