Summer Small Groups

Summer is coming and it’s time to get our groups ready.  Do we keep meeting or take a break?  Do we do the same thing as always, or play it low-key?  If we keep meeting, will anyone show up?

Here’s some observations to help you wade through the decisions.

  1. Keep meeting unless there is a reason not to.  If everyone is available and interested, keep meeting like you normally would.  Groups are made-up of relationships.  Relationships shouldn’t stop with season changes.  I suggest projecting a tentative schedule, asking members to forecast their availability, and make cancellations to the schedule based on what you hear back. This could consist of a once a month meeting or meeting every two weeks. See what works best for your group and your own leadership rhythms as well.
  2. Serve as a group. Even if the entire group cannot make it there are numerous service opportunities this summer your group can engage in. Explore partnering with the Hope Center and their new Green Power Garden Project, Serve at Linden Grove, City on a Hill where you can engage in mentoring youth, Serve at the Food Pantry, or Inspirations Ministry. For more information contact our Outreach Ambassadors or me (Joe McFadden) for each serving partnership. This is an important part of the “Ministry Phase” in your groups life cycle.
  3. Be intentional about being relational. Summertime offers a great opportunity to connect with neighbors and friends who you have been meaning to invest some time in relationally. We all know people in our lives and communities who would be better off with God in their lives, invite them into your next social gathering, block party or summer Small Group barbecue, strike up some conversations, and see where God directs things. Put into action some of what we have been learning this year.
  4. Mix up the format, but keep the spiritual direction.  It’s summer in Wisconsin, and we’ve got to make the most of it while it lasts!  Do some things with the group that you can’t during the rest of the year – picnics, Brewer tail-gates, days at the lake, camping trips, etc…  You’re looking for atmospheres that enhance the relationships.  However, in the midst of all the fun, don’t neglect the spiritual direction.  Even if you’re not doing a formal study or discussion, plan a few choice spiritual topics to insert into your times together.  If you lose your sense of spiritual direction by just doing socials, it’s tough to get it back in the Fall.
  5. If you take a break, don’t go cold-turkey.  If you survey the group members, and find that there are too many conflicts to continue the regular schedule, don’t kiss the summer goodbye altogether.  At the bare minimum, I suggest meeting through mid-to-late June on the regular schedule, taking July and August off with one really well planned party during that window, and then resuming the first or second week of September.  By my observation, most groups that have taken a two-three month summer break never regain their momentum – they tend to limp through the Fall and Winter, and die the following Spring.
  6. Prep for the Fall.  No matter what you choose to do with the group, the nature of doing summer Small Groups is likely to offer some lighter down-time for your leadership role.  I’ve found it helpful to use this downtime to prep for the Fall.  Grab a new study guide to preview, or dive into a book of the Bible you’d like to take the group through.  Strengthen some relational ties with people you’d like to invite to the group.  Pray through the direction of your group and consider revisions that would help you align the group more toward God’s goals for their lives.