Summer's here and the time is right for dancing in the street.
Unless you're a pastor.
For pastors, the most pitiable of all creatures, summer is the winter of our discontent. Summer travel thins our herd of greased cats on the weekends. While everyone else is off enjoying Memorial Day and July 4th here in the States, pastors wonder if this is the year that they can get away with calling off their worship gatherings on those weekends.
And now is not the time for you to speak up, Rev Theo Neatnik. I get the doctrines of both providence and sovereignty and am fully on board with the ordinary means of grace. And, no, I don't feel particular sad or live with a melancholy disposition.
But I did have more than 10% of our church just leave for the summer. Last Sunday, I said good-bye to three friends who are moving out of town. And I have a church like yours filled with people who are living for vacation and cool with missing a handful of other Sundays because...summer.
So (in my best Hulk Hogan voice), whatcha gonna do, brother, when your church goes into summer mode? I suggest you go for 'make it amazing.' And that isn't hyperbole. Why would we settle for anything less in our life together than an astonishing, astounding, surprising, breathtaking, startingly impressive summer? Here are six ways you can set the course of your church towards amazing.
1. Enjoy The Summer
Seriously, doc. Don't be the hammerhead pouting in a corner while everyone is taking selfies at the beach. Life is hard and the world is broken. Getting a moment to breathe in a glimpse of God's forever rest is a gift. Encourage your people to enjoy the next few months. And take your own advice.
Idea - Post pictures and tell stories on your church's website about people's vacation
2. Streamline Everything
Move to one gathering if you do multiple gatherings. Cut back on the number of volunteers 'you have to have.' Go acoustic on your music. Preach shorter. Work fewer hours. Find ways to batch meetings and make them shorter.
Idea - If you were prohibited from having any leadership meetings this summer, how would you communicate with each other and get work done? Figure out what that would look like and go out and do it.
3. Make Summer A Can't Miss Experience
Summer is different so make it different. This isn't permission to turn a covenant renewal gathering of Almighty God into silly season, but it should inspire some of your most creative work. For instance, My friends at Fellowship Memphis have branded their summer (#FMSummer) with ten straight weeks of parties after their gatherings.
Idea - Have at least one can't-miss event for your entire church. If you already have something like that (church picnic, VBS, etc.), then find at least one way to surprise and delight everyone you invite (food trucks, anyone?).
4. Leverage Your Groups
People have to work during the summer. Which means they are in town during the week. So instead of your groups taking the summer off, double down on the importance of group life.
Perhaps you change the format. Maybe two or more groups combine for the summer. Or you might keep on truckin' with what you've been doing all year. But don't make the mistake of forcing people to 'show up on Sunday or else.' Leave the door open for them to connect in groups all summer long.
Idea - Ask you group leaders what would have to be true for their group to look back later this year and describe their summer together as 'amazing.'
5. Build Infrastructure
There's a reason most road work takes place in the dead of night. Less traffic means less interference while infrastructure is being developed. Keep that in mind during the season of scattering that is summer in the church.
Evaluate last year and plan next year with all of your ministry teams. Develop new leaders by giving them reps in your gathering and your groups. Don't look at summer as garbage time. Set the bar high and give real opportunities to your best and brightest.
Idea - Evaluate each ministry area in your church. Determine your greatest area of weakness and take the summer to fix what's broken or damaged.
6. Be A Good Westminster Boy (or Girl)
'The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.' That answer to the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism sets the course for your summer. There is a Godward intensity that co-mingles with sidesplitting joy. That is the aim of your church during the summer.
Idea - Make the pursuit of Godward joy a focus in your sermon application, and model it in every environment and event this summer.
Do The Next Right Thing
Look back over these six ideas. Choose one and put that into motion.
What is your church doing this summer to have fun and make much of Jesus?
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