It’s almost summer! Not to catch you off guard, but the last day of school for your kids is approaching even faster. When summer hits, people go places. Not just to keep the kids occupied, but to relax and escape the normal routine. Beaches, amusement parks, lakes or cabins; you name it, people are eager to get out of town and explore somewhere new.
And while summer is a great time to get away and recharge, your people shouldn’t have to feel disconnected from their faith community. Keep your ministry alive by changing pace to match the time of year. This is an especially important time to encourage your members and small groups to stay connected and engaged, even when they aren’t always present, through online channels like your app or social media.
Need some help getting started? Here are four tips to help your ministry’s small groups stay connected during the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.
Be Flexible and Connect Digitally
If you need to change any details pertaining to a small group meeting or event, go ahead and do it. Whether it’s a popular week to travel (like the week of July 4) or a weather system coming through (extreme heat or strong thunderstorm), it’s ok to make a decision to meet in a new location or at a new time. Being flexible can make it easier for people to stay connected during summer months. Holding small group meetings every other week or rotating meeting locations to a beach, coffee shop, poolside location or park will keep things fresh.
If you need to send out a last minute event change, use a push notification through your church app to blast a message quickly to a lot of people. Or better yet, keep people connected using the unique group chat within your app. This feature allows you to stay connected and maintains the safety and dynamics of your small group.
Also, while your members may not be able to attend every event in person, they are still accessible and interested in keeping up with what’s going on. Create groups for your each small group and post an event recap and the prayer requests so everyone can stay connected while they travel.
If your small group is suffering from loss of participation, it’s likely other groups are too. Turn your small groups into larger groups during the summer by brainstorming new ideas from other members of your church. Pair up with a few other groups for a BBQ or fun outing.
Consider joining groups together for different meet-ups, outings or projects. A shared meal, play day at the park or trip to a sporting event are just a couple of many ideas you can do with multiple groups. Don’t forget to invite members who aren’t in small groups to participate in these events as well. Summer can be a point of connection for people new to the church or your area.
Sometimes, just letting relationships blossom is the best way to boost engagement in the summer. Keeping things casual and focusing on relational growth helps stimulate conversations that lead to laughter, fun and more shared experiences. Have a camera handy at any event in order to capture these moments so you can capture and share pictures of your events, small group meetings, volunteering opportunities, etc. to post on social media, website and in your app. This reminds people that your church is still active, thriving and encourages more people to join in next time.
Be Active In The Community
Consider gathering your members out into the neighborhood to serve. This allows people to see the impact that they bring to the community. Serving a family in the church, handing out water bottles to during a 5K or serving at a soup kitchen are all great options. You could even take turns throwing block parties in the various neighborhoods of your small group members. This is a great and fun way to engage with the broader community and foster new relationships.
Use your church app to invite members to participate in these events. After an event has ended, follow-up with those who participated and offer other ways for members to give back and continue to stay involved.
Whatever you determine fits the needs and desires of your ministry and small group members this summer, the goal is to keep it carefree and easy to join. Encourage small group engagement throughout the summer by keeping your members connected through your app. This is an easy way to maintain church health and build momentum into the fall.
What does your church do to engage members throughout the summer?