by Steve Gladen
Are your small groups facing a summer slump? Some groups stop meeting in the summer. Some continue meeting, but have sporadic attendance due to summer vacations and planned family events. Why not encourage your groups to continue balancing the biblical purposes during the summer in some non-traditional ways that can be done outside of meeting time?
Fellowship – Summer is a great time to start a “Guys’ night/Girls’ night”. Suggest that your groups do a Guys’ night/ Girls’ night. Once each month or two, the guys go out to dinner and the girls go out to dinner – at different restaurants. If children are in the picture, guys and gals could go out on different nights, and whoever doesn’t dine out will hang with the kids.
Discipleship – If some of your groups are taking a break during the summer, think of ways for your small group leaders to stay engaged with group members. Such as suggesting group members do a fast “via email”. Encourage small group leaders to send out an email to group members suggesting they all do a 24 hour fast together (you could even supply the email for your small group leaders to simply cut and paste). Perhaps you might also want to provide information to your leaders on fasting. When Jesus taught about fasting in Matthew 6:16, He said, “when you fast,” not “if” you fast. Encourage group members to decide as a group to do a one-day fast. This would mean giving up all food for a 24- hour period. Encourage group members to pray during those times when they would normally be eating. You might also want to tell them to pray about specific situations they all could be praying for together. After the fasting period, encourage your small group leaders to send out an email to all group members and ask them to share how the experience was for them (if you provide instructions, remind members to hit “reply all” so that all small group members are on the email chain). This type of activity brings members closer to God and to each other, even if they are communicating from a distance.
Ministry – Use the summer to support a single parent in your church or community. Group members can take the time they would normally be using to meet (normally about a couple of hours per week) and spend that time offering to babysit, taking the kid’s to McDonalds, doing the grocery shopping, changing the oil in the car, sprucing up the yard, or delivering a meal. And, of course, pray for that family.
Evangelism – Summer is a great time to have a garage sale. To help simplify your life and to raise money either for a missions project or a need in your group, church, or community, organize a garage sale. Advertise what your purpose is. For example, Garage Sale to Benefit Habitat for Humanity, or Five Families Working Together to Make a Difference. Be creative and think big. Clean out the house and get rid of all of those items you don’t use. Items that you could sell to make a difference in someone else’s life. How much of an impact could your contribution make to the local homeless shelter?
Join me next month for more ideas to promote health and balance in your small groups!
Steve Gladen is the Founder of the Small Group Network and Pastor of Small Group Community at Saddleback Church.
For more ideas like these, read 250 Big Ideas for Purpose Driven Small Groups.