by Reid Smith
By the end of spring, It’s not uncommon for groups to want to change things up for the summer instead of starting a new Bible study. This comes from a common felt-need to take a break and get refreshed before school, ministries, and so many other things restart in the fall.
However, if you only saw the summer as a chance to unplug, you’d be missing easy and effective opportunities to invigorate your group. Groups don’t have to break from being together in the summer and potentially breakdown their momentum of community-building. Rather, they can use this season to change gears with their regular meeting rhythms in order to find new ways to grow together in Christ.
- Mix it up! Instead of your usual, say, Tuesday, 6:30-8pm time – decide to get together every other Friday for dinner and a movie together. If you meet weekly, try meeting every other week. Or everyone could plan to attend the same service and afterwards do an outdoor activity together.
- Morph into a shared interest group. Discover who shares the same interests in your group and organize activities around them. Start out by asking:
- “What do you enjoy doing the most with your free time?”
- “If you could invite a few others to join you in an activity, what would it be?”
- “What special interest, topic, creative hobby or sport do you enjoy doing?”
You don’t have to choose one! Create a “mixed shared interest group” out of the ideas that came up. You might do a specific topical study one week and then softball the next. Plan it all out, but don’t try to do too much; just enough to keep the relational connection and continue building upon the community that God has built so far.
- Schedule it! Before the onset of summer, ask group members to bring their calendars to a meeting and plan around the dates people know they are going to be away. Before scheduling, appoint somebody to find out what is happening in your surrounding communities during the summer like farmers markets, festivals, outdoor concerts, etc. Besides community events, other examples of fun activities to put on the calendar include:
- Going out to a restaurant together and/or the movies.
- Grilling in a local park or the backyard of somebody other than your typical host.
- Going to a sports event together or doing an activity everyone can get into like bowling, paddle-boating, volleyball, hiking, etc.
- Taking a day-trip to the coast, mountains, or state/national park.
- Watching July 4th fireworks together (invite neighbors to join you and introduce them to others in your group).
- Having group members pray for one person in their lives they can invite to your group by the end of the summer. (Take a meeting to pray for these people and for what group members hope to see happen in their personal lives by the end of the year.)
- Plan a servant evangelism project together. Click HERE for ideas and select a project that would be low risk for people in your group and shows God’s love in practical ways.
- Volunteer to help your church with an event or project.
- Encourage group members to discover and develop their spiritual gifts. Here’s a simple three-step process: 1) Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12:1-8; Ephesians 4:7-16; 1 Peter 4:10-11. 2) Have each one complete a spiritual gift assessment. 3) Affirm the outcomes for everyone and brainstorm how they could use them to build up the group in the fall.
Group members who wouldn’t take on new responsibilities for the group in the midst of a study might be willing to do so during the different pace of the summer. Seize this season to “test drive” potential co-leaders by giving them bite-size responsibilities that will help you implement any of the strategies above. Also, seriously consider sub-grouping by gender when you change things up in any of these ways because it will help relationships grow deeper and develop new leaders for future groups so more people can be impacted with the love and message of Jesus Christ!