By Ken Braddy
Almost every church and Bible study group will experience a slight downturn in attendance between Memorial Day and back-to-school time in August.
It’s the time of year when school comes to a close, families go on vacation, and kids’ sports teams travel and participate in weekend tournaments. In addition to all that, beaches and amusement parks tend to attract people for the weekend.
Bible study groups are left feeling rather empty compared to spring attendance levels. Some churches cancel groups for the summer, recognizing that attendance is going to be sporadic and groups will be difficult to staff with leaders.
Whether your Bible study group meets year-round or takes the summer off, here are five ways to make the most of the summer slumps.
1. Serve together – Summer presents plenty of opportunities for entire Bible study groups to serve together. Sharing an experience like serving in Vacation Bible School or another community-centered ministry activity (soccer camp, day camp, etc.) is a great way to build the bonds among your group members.
Why not ask your group members to invest a week of vacation by serving kids from your community, knowing they will grow in their relationships with one another, too?
2. Play together – It’s important for adults to enjoy fun fellowship opportunities. Summer is a great time to head to outdoor concerts (often free), baseball games, or the lake. A short road trip might be just the thing your group needs to experience. What places are within an hour or two of your church?
Make sure your group has fun monthly activities in June, July, and August. And be sure to invite all of the prospects for your group, plus every associate member who is serving as a group leader for kids or students. The people who’ve left your group to serve others need to have fun, too!
3. Study together – Don’t waste the dog days of summer. These months are a good time for your group to go deeper. Host a Bible study on a weeknight at a group member’s home. Have a meal together (or at least some hefty snacks) and pick a topic to study that is interesting to your group.
Many short-term study options can be covered in eight to 12 weeks in someone’s home. These kinds of short-term studies often have homework between sessions, but that’s a great way to experience spiritual growth during the summer.
4. Eat together – Before summer slumps begin, invite your group members to participate in “Seats for 6.” After allowing a time for people to sign up, randomly assign them to groups of six – three couples, two couples and two singles, six singles – you get the idea.
Two people agree to kick things off by hosting the group at their home, providing a meal and games (some groups decide to select a different restaurant each month to make it easier). The group simply rotates the responsibility for selecting the meeting location each month. Six people per group means fellowship can take place in June, July, and August. You’ll also see relationships deepen as people spend consistent time together.
5. Give together – Other ministries in your church shift into high gear during summer months. Summer camps, Vacation Bible School, mission trips, day camps, lockouts and lock-ins, and other fun events occupy a lot of time on the church calendar.
Ask your group members to pray about going above and beyond their normal tithes and offerings so that your group can send a kid (or kids) to camp, help defray VBS expenses, and make it possible for adult volunteers to participate in activities like lock-ins free of charge.
If you do these five things, you’ll be well on your way to re-launching your group in August when everyone’s back from summer travels and activities. Summer is a fun time, so make those days and months work for your group, and make the most of the summer slumps!
KEN BRADDY is the manager of Lifeway’s adult ongoing Bible studies and leads a weekly Bible study group at his church in Tennessee. He also blogs daily about Bible study groups at kenbraddy.com.