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I live in the Pacific Northwest, and this week the sun came back to remind us that summer is at hand. Regardless of your particular small group model, this is a tricky season. Schedules change along with the weather, and many of us need to adjust to keep our groups engaged through the summer or the off seasons. Here are some great tips to give your leaders as they prepare for the season ahead:
Community never takes a break
As I shared in my last post, people that only meet for regularly scheduled meetings are typically referred to as co-workers, not friends. The chances are that most groups will take at least a small break for their weekly meetings in the months ahead. This can be a great way for leaders and group members to avoid burnout and come back refreshed. However, a break in weekly meetings doesn’t mean a break in relationships. It can be easy for a group to fall apart if a month goes by without a chance to connect with one another.
We all know that empty schedules become vacuums for activities, and that summer plans are set in stone early. With that in mind, encourage your group leaders to go into the season with a plan that their whole group agrees to. Some groups may not take a break from meetings at all, choosing to keep their schedule or just change frequency for the season. If a group does decide to take a break for the summer, they should have a plan to stay connected. This may take the form of monthly BBQs/playdates or pre-scheduled movie and discussion nights. In either case, it’s important to communicate the plan early rather than assuming everyone’s on the same page.
One couple from our church attends their local concert in the park every week through the summer and invites their group to join them. Some weeks it is just them and they have a nice date. Others, the whole group is there. Each person in their group knows the plan and comes when they can. Regardless of how a group engages in the summer, everyone should know the plan and have the details well ahead of time.
Provide easy options
It is easy to encourage leaders to engage and be intentional through the summer but going the extra mile means giving ideas and opportunities for them as well. Each year, I create a summer guide with information and links to low/no-cost group activities including movies/concerts in the park, sporting events, and festivals near each of our campuses. This gives them something to bring to their group for summer planning and takes the guessing out of the process.
You may also consider scheduling an event for groups in the middle of the summer to provide an easy point of connection during the busy season. It could be as simple as s’mores and lawn games. This year, we’re scheduling a marriage event and encouraging groups to reserve tables together. You would be surprised at how many group leaders take advantage when you provide the time and space for their group to connect.
Don’t let summer slip by! If you and your leaders are prepared, this can be an incredible season of growing relationships.