The dog days of summer. Those hot, sultry days of July and August. For many of us, it’s a period when we slow down a bit (“It’s just too hot to do anything”) and there are not a lot of activities. Many people use the time to squeeze in a trip or vacation before the full force of fall activities and school arrives.
These can also be the dog days of Bible study. Attendance may be highest at the movie theater because of summer blockbusters, but attendance is often at its lowest in our groups and classes. Many churches even drop their ongoing classes and groups during these days. For those of us who are leading a group in July and August, it is tempting to coast a bit. But let me offer some ideas on how to use this time.
1. Give it your best. Attendance in your group may be low, but you should still give your group the best preparation you can. I’ll admit it can knock the wind out of your sails if you’ve put in a lot of study and planning only to have half your group (or less!) show up. (I had one occasion when only one person came!) Let that happen several weeks in a row, and we are tempted to slacken in our preparation and leading.
I’ve learned, though, that if even only one person comes to the group, I still need to give it my best. Transformational teaching can still occur. To slack off communicates that the small number of people who came are not as important as the ones who are absent.
2. Connect with visitors and potential group members. Sure, we should be building relationships year-round, but summer is a time when many people move to new jobs and cities. Your church may experience a bump in the number of families looking for a new church home. Take advantage of that. Invest time in them and pull them into your group.
3. Gear up for the Fall. A slower church calendar during the late summer months can allow you time to plan for a big launch in the fall.
- Read and/or attend some Bible study training.
- Evaluate the area where your group meets. Do you need to do some spring cleaning in late summer?
- Get others in your group on board to do some heavy promotion and contacting to launch your group strong in the fall.
- Consider launching a new group. Maybe it’s time for the members of your group to divide and conquer. Work with someone in your group who can launch a new group, or mentor someone to take over the reins of the current group so you can lead the new group.
The dog days of summer do not need to be the dead days of Bible study!
Lynn Pryor is a team leader for adult resources at Lifeway. He and his wife, Mary, lead a Bible study group for young adults and have survived raising two sons to adulthood. A graduate of Southwestern Seminary, Lynn has previously pastored and served churches in Texas. Follow him on his blog at lynnhpryor.com.