Is Summer an Ally to Your Group?

Everyone seems to look forward to the summer, except for small group leaders. Leaders dread watching everything they’ve built over the course of the year quickly evaporate with the heat of Summer. Most launch into those long, lazy days with the distant thought of 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 minds. Why not use this change of pace to build into your small group?

While many people travel during the summer, your group members won’t be gone for the entire three months. In your first May meeting, why not 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 together even more. 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 from headquarters. Just sit down with your group and talk about what needs they have 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 them for the summer and work on the yard together. Is there a Sunday school teacher who could use a well deserved break? Your group could rotate leading the class and give the teacher a rest. As your group looks around, you will be amazed at the number of ways you can use a little summer down time to make a difference in a life.

Another place to look is the neighborhood you meet in. Summer is the one season when everyone seems to emerge from their houses (and not just zipping in and out of the garage). 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 to connect others into groups. Plus, it’s just great to get your original group back together.

Summer may not be the best stretch for an every week Bible study, but the change of pace could be great for your group. Sit down with your group in the next few weeks and make some plans. Then, do whatever 100 percent of your group agrees on. Fall will be here before you know it.

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Brett Eastman served as the Small Group Champion at Saddleback Church and Willow Creek Community Church for over a decade. Brett has produced and either authored or co-authored over 200 small group curriculum series including the bestselling Purpose Driven Small Group curriculum, Doing Lifetogether published by Zondervan, which has sold over 3,000,000 copies. He also was the primary designer behind the 40 Days of Purpose Campaigns that fueled over 25,000 churches around the world. He also wrote and produced the first Purpose Driven small group series for Rick Warren that influenced the development of over 50 small group series to date.