Summer is coming and it’s time to get our groups ready. Do we keep meeting or take a break? Do we do the same thing as always, or play it low key? If we keep meeting, will anyone show up?
Here’s some observations I’ve gained over the years to help you wade through the decisions.
- Keep meeting unless there is a reason not to. If everyone is available and interested, keep meeting like you normally would. Groups are made-up of relationships. Relationships shouldn’t stop with season changes. I suggest projecting a tentative schedule, asking members to forecast their availability, and make cancellations to the schedule based on what you hear back.
- Mix up the format, but keep the spiritual direction. It’s summer in Wisconsin, and we’ve got to make the most of it while it lasts! Do some things with the group that you can’t during the rest of the year – picnics, tail-gates, days at the lake, camping trips, etc… You’re looking for atmospheres that enhance the relationships. However, in the midst of all the fun, don’t neglect the spiritual direction. Even if you’re not doing a formal study or discussion, plan a few choice spiritual topics to insert into your times together. If you lose your sense of spiritual direction by just doing socials, it’s tough to get it back in the Fall.
- If you take a break, don’t go cold-turkey. If you survey the group members, and find that there are too many conflicts to continue the regular schedule, don’t kiss the summer goodbye altogether. At the bare minimum, I suggest meeting through mid-to-late June on the regular schedule, taking July and August off with one really well planned party during that window, and then resuming the first or second week of September. By my observation, most groups that have taken a two-three month summer break never regain their momentum – they tend to limp through the Fall and Winter, and die the following Spring.
- If your group started in the spring, you can’t take a break. If you haven’t been meeting as a group for at least four months, you don’t have enough momentum to take a break at all. Even if more than half the group can’t make it, I suggest keeping the gatherings rolling.
- Prep for the Fall. No matter what you choose to do with the group, the nature of doing summer House Groups is likely to offer some lighter down-time for your leadership role. I’ve found it helpful to use this downtime to prep for the Fall. Grab a new study guide to preview, or exegete a book of the Bible you’d like to take the group through. Strengthen some relational ties with people you’d like to invite to the group. Pray through the direction of your group and consider revisions that would help you align the group more toward God’s goals for their lives.