The summer can make participation in special activities and even attendance to weekly church events slim. Many churches simply end weekday activities during the summer months and take a break from small group meetings. However, this leaves lots of families feeling disconnected while their life and needs continue during the summer. Although lots of families take vacations and travel on the weekends, there are just as many that don’t get to enjoy lengthy vacations. When the consistency of their church calendar changes, the summer months can seem to stretch much longer than 10-12 weeks.
These families need the continued support and connection they have grown to depend on and find through their small groups, youth group and church community. Although attendance may decrease during June through August there are many opportunities to plan and implement programs that can still meet the needs of these families in creative ways that may actually work better with smaller numbers.
Summer is a great time to plan more family or group based activities. Instead of having a study based on a curriculum that encourages weekly attendance because one week builds on the next, have each week stand on its own. This way if someone is out of town for a week or two they know they can just jump back in.
Pick one day a week to plan a hands-on service opportunity that encourages small groups or families to participate in together. Possibly arrange to have a group serve dinner at the local homeless shelter. Plan a bake sale and car wash to raise funds for a mission that the church supports. Encourage families to rally other families and friends to work together on this goal. Arrange with your local crisis pregnancy center to host a baby shower for their supply closet and ask if they have any other needs the group can meet.
These summer months are a great time to also invest in groups that may not get served as often by the corporate body. You could host a weekly Bible study or book club for teen moms, with older moms facilitating at your church. You could encourage a small group to commit to babysit for the children of these moms during that 2 hour period. If you don’t have Wednesday night services during the summer months they could use the building during that time frame and they would be freed up to serve in this way.
You could also host a respite night for special needs families and a small group or several families could offer to watch the children of these families for a few hours one night a month. This would be a great way to reach out and build relationship with these families that often struggle to come to regular church activities and also desperately need respite for themselves. Joni and Friends is an incredible organization that offers free training and resources for churches that want to begin to serve families with loved ones with special needs.
These are just a few ideas of creative and impactful ways your church can still encourage connection and community during the summer months. What is one way you can think outside the box this summer and encourage families to stay connected?