Taking a break from formal group meetings over the summer gives members an opportunity to actually live out what they have studied the other nine months of the year. Summer group socials are also a great opportunity to invite prospective group members. The prospects can get to know the group in a casual setting before they decide to join the group in ongoing meetings. A break also provides a refreshing reprieve from the regular meeting pattern between September and May. If group members have taken a break over the summer, they will be excited to hit another study hard in the fall.
Of course, the downside of cancelling meetings is that the focus on discipleship through study is limited to about 30 weeks of the year (September to November, then January to May). Some will suggest we are disciples 52 weeks of the year, so why do we only focus on growth for roughly two-thirds of the year? The tension lies in equating Bible study with discipleship, suggesting the absence of group meetings indicates an absence of discipleship. Personally, I believe discipleship is more holistic. Discipleship does not develop solely through studies, but also in life's interactions, like praying for group member's needs and living out what has been learned. Spiritual growth is influenced not only by the Bible, but also by encounters with other people as well as our own attitudes, actions, feelings, circumstances, backgrounds, and more. Group life, even without formal meetings, contains many opportunities for discipleship as group members encourage each other to live out God's Word in practical ways. While the group may not be participating in a formal Bible study, they can be actively involved in care, support, and accountability in the practical outworking of biblical principles in the lives of each group member.
3. Commit to Summer Service Projects
If groups plan to change up their meeting pattern over the summer, a service project might be a great opportunity for the group to serve, learn, and grow together. Opportunities exist for group members to serve in one of the church's ministries, with a non-profit organization, or even find a need in their own neighborhood and fill it.
A service project can help groups focus on living out their faith in a practical way. Not only will those being served benefit, but the group will benefit in several ways as well. Often, God speaks to us when we are serving others. God can certainly work "in" each group member as he is working "through" them in their service. The best part of serving others is taking the gospel from a discussion to a practical expression. By serving as a group, everyone can get involved, and individuals may feel more comfortable serving with those they know.
Organizing projects can create a challenge. If groups depend on the church to schedule projects for them, then summer may be a complicated time to begin coordinating efforts. Whether the church recommends a project or the group identifies one on their own, synchronizing busy summer schedules could cause a potential roadblock to serving. Start communicating early.
4. Form Groups around Summer Interests
A number of churches create groups formed around sports, hobbies, or other shared interests. The idea here is that particular summer interests and activities easily lend themselves to the formation of new groups.