Summertime is finally upon us!
As we step into this next season we look forward to beautiful weather, well-deserved vacations, and a ton of relaxation. However, if you are a leader involved in the church world, summertime can be a bit of a challenge.
If you’ve been around long enough to experience all 4 seasons, you know the church attendance significantly dips in the summer months. College students return home, families go on vacations, and nice weather entices many faithful congregants to opt for relaxing over their typical church involvement.
Attendance is not the only thing that takes a hit. Overall engagement (volunteering, giving, etc.) tends to suffer a bit as well. This is significant because engagement is a very important measurement of substantial growth in the church.
Engagement is where the rubber meets the road for those in the church; it is where people move from passive observers to involved members. You could have a ton of people sitting in the pews, but if those people have not engaged in the life of your church, the community will suffer.
The reality is that engagement during the summertime months is going to differ from the rest of the year, so that means you have to be creative! Focusing on less long-term commitments and family involvement will be key to summertime engagement. Here are a few simple ideas for you to try out.
School is out for summer which means that young families are searching for something to occupy their kiddos during the summer. While summer camps and retreats are great activities to consider, VBS is a wonderful way to combine fun activities with vital spiritual formation in our young ones.
The challenge is getting the necessary volunteers and leaders to help run the vacation Bible school. Emphasizing the importance of the lives of young children will be key to getting people behind supporting the VBS.
Running a VBS is a win-win-win scenario for children, parents, and the church community as a whole. It engages with the family unit and might even bring in families that otherwise would not have been involved with the church previously.
One of the best aspects of summertime is all of the fun outdoor activities available to do. A fun way to get your church community together is to plan a regular hangout. Depending on where your church is located, you can plan a ton of different activities. A bonfire, beach picnic, cornhole tournament, cookout, or amusement park day are just a few of the many options for community involvement.
Why is a hangout a good idea? Because not every church activity has to involve a formally organized Bible study. Sometimes we focus so much on just listening to sermons that we forget the relational aspect of being a part of a faith community. These hangouts can lead to deeper conversations and relationships that thrive outside of the church’s 4 walls.
It is important to keep in mind that these hangouts don’t have to merely serve your existing church community, they can serve to reach outsiders too! Thinking outside the box, asking your community what events they want to participate in, and focusing on building relationships will be key.
The non-summer months are the typical times of the year when Bible studies and small groups are thriving in church communities. Often, churches tend to take a bit of a break from these formal groups during summer. Because overall attendance is lower, it may make sense to put a pause on these groups.
Instead of ending these groups altogether, your church can opt to do a more short-term study or group. Have your groups last 4-6 weeks and keep it pretty informal. This helps encourage participants to keep coming back to the group even if they can’t make it every single week.
Overall, summertime engagement can be tricky and frustrating, but these months do not have to be completely wasted. Summer is a great time to build relationships, get children and the whole family involved, and grow with one another in community. Take advantage of these summer months even if they don’t look like all of the rest of the year!
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