The more people have in common with each other, the better chance the group will solidify. Offering a short-term commitment focused around activities people enjoy could provide a great introduction to group life.
If you are looking for long-lasting groups, summer is probably not the best season to start, as many interests formed during the summer do not always start smoothly or enjoy longevity. If the goal is a short-term bonding experience, then it can prove beneficial. Understand, having a common interest does not guarantee participants will “gel” into a group. For the best return on investment, start groups by leveraging existing relationships; it creates a stronger foundation for groups than common interest.
5. Take a Break for the Summer
As the old song goes, "summertime, and the livin’ is easy..." Many people will cast aside their additional obligations in exchange for the freedom to enjoy the lazy days of summer. Many churches, in turn, will cancel their groups over the summer. They simply agree not to meet in June, July, and August.
If this is a decision agreed upon by leadership, groups can plan their summer break as they eagerly look forward to what lies ahead in the fall. There are no feelings of guilt for not meeting, since the expectation has been set.
Foregoing meeting over the summer could have negative implications when starting back up in the fall. A complete lack of connection and interaction with one another might cause a divide too great to easily overcome. Once fall arrives, the new task may be starting completely over and forming new groups. To avoid this, it might be easier to encourage groups to continue through the summer in a way that best suits the members. For those desiring a summer Bible study, they may have to take the initiative to put one together on their own, (which is not necessarily a bad idea, and may provide opportunities for leadership, both now and in the future).
Summer, with the right strategy, can boost group participation and satisfaction. How this is accomplished will vary from church to church, and possibly from group to group. Offer several options to your groups, letting them choose what would work best for them over the summer months in order to continue the group, while allowing for a change of pace.
—Allen White is a pastor, teacher, writer, and speaker.