After a year and a half of days and months seemingly blurring together during the pandemic, a lot of us are starting to see the light at the end of the lockdown tunnel—and just in time for summer.
Summer (hopefully) means more fun time spent with family and friends. Kids are home from school, and family vacations are on the horizon. We also tend to have a bit more margin than we do during the other seasons. As small group leaders, that extra budgeted time spent with family should also include time with our group members, especially after this last season of isolation and social distancing.
Your small group should be looked at as a family, not a function. With a function, we can take breaks and come back to it when we feel like it. With family, there is no such thing as extended breaks.
That doesn’t mean we can’t take a break from hosting weekly in-person or online group meetings. Preparing and leading a Bible study every week (or even bi-weekly) can be grueling, so you deserve to take a breather for a couple of months. There are many ways, however, to stay connected to our “family” during the summer months without gathering as consistently for a study.
Here are four activities to put on the summer agenda at your next group meeting.
1. HAVE FUN TOGETHER.
Cities across America are starting to open events and group activities back up again. This would be a great time to go to a ballgame with your group, or celebrate the Fourth of July together with a picnic in a backyard or at a park.
Schedule an evening around a fire pit making s’mores and sharing stories of how God has been faithful to you during this season. It feels like this past year has sucked a lot of the fun out of group life, and summer is a great time to put it back in.
2. SERVE SOMEWHERE TOGETHER.
Nothing bonds a group better than being on mission together. There are food pantries, youth centers, and other missional organizations in almost every community. Pick out a Saturday in June or July to serve as a group. If it’s a great experience with an organization making a real difference, commit to an ongoing relationship.
As lockdowns around the world are easing, churches are also starting to plan short-term missions trips again this summer. The trip, however, does not have to be international—there are massive needs in communities all around us. Partner with an organization that is already making a difference and take your group on a day mission trip.
3. CONTINUE TO STUDY TOGETHER.
Just because we may not be meeting weekly does not mean we have to stop studying the Bible together. Lifeway offers several flexible options to help keep your Bible study going throughout the summer.
You can jump into a free online Bible study with thousands of people from across the nation and world to watch teaching videos, follow along in Bible study books, and engage in discussion.
Or you can choose a study on smallgroup.com. But instead of meeting together every week for the discussion, set up a Facebook page to go through it online, at your own pace. Your group members can watch the video on their own and then post comments on the page. A great study to try this summer would be Making Space by Jeff Vanderstelt.
4. PRAY CONSISTENTLY TOGETHER.
Although prayer is listed last here, it really should be the first and last thing we always do together. Keeping up with prayer needs in the group is critical during this time. That could be done through email, text, GroupMe, or anywhere your group naturally and digitally connects. Make sure to also use those channels to celebrate when God answers those needs!
By getting creative and thinking outside of the box, your group family can still stay engaged in community and grow in discipleship this summer. Let’s gather and regather our groups with purpose!
This article originally appeared on LifewayVoices.com.
CHRIS SURRATT (@ChrisSurratt) is the discipleship and small groups specialist for Lifeway Christian Resources, a ministry consultant and coach with more than 20 years of experience, and the author of Leading Small Groups: How to Gather, Launch, Lead, and Multiply Your Small Group.