Maximizing Your Summer in Church Revitalization
Summer means different things to different people depending on the stage of life you are in. Summer in New England means we get to enjoy sunshine and amazing sunsets, longer nights, gathering opportunities, connections in our local communities, and don’t forget vacations. But in the life cycle of a church, summer is also a clear pathway into the fall.
Some say that summer is a challenging season for church revitalizers. Or is it? What if you looked at the summer not as something to get through but as a time to work through?
Summer is not a time to sit still and coast. It’s a time to activate and engage. What if it was possible to grow our churches through the summer season?
When I was a kid, I loved the feeling when school was out because I had three months of freedom. That feeling was both crazy and amazing. When I was in elementary school, I had three months to ride my bike, play baseball, go to BBQs, and play with my army men. When I was in junior high, it meant I could do whatever I wanted. When I was in high school, it meant working all summer. Now it means something different. As a pastor, it means maximizing and revitalizing opportunities in my local church and gearing up for fall.
When you think of revitalizing your summer, I want you to think of the word F.U.N.
- FORM NEW CONNECTION OPPORTUNITIES.
Summer is the time to birth new meet-up groups centered around specific interests and activities. Meet-ups are low-commitment events where people can find friends, have fun, serve the community, or learn together. They are sponsored, organized, and run by individual members and attenders and advertised by the church. Meet-ups bring people together to create meaningful friendships around the things they love with the goal of initiating conversations around Jesus. These events provide on-ramps for new people to join your church community and give people a reason to get involved and have an impact.
Secondly, empower and encourage your people to get involved in local missions and service projects. There are great opportunities to bring revitalization to your church by serving the community through organizations like Habitat for Humanity, local food pantries, and displacement housing shelters. Places of brokenness are everywhere, and your church can step into the brokenness and participate in regional community revitalization while revitalizing your church. This momentum will be a way to connect in the community and connect with local leaders.
- UNDERSTAND THAT SUMMER IS THE TIME TO PLAN FOR THE FALL
Summer is a great time to pour into and invest in the staff and key leaders of your church. Schedule time to train, plan for the fall, and grow together, but don’t forget to engage in some summer fun together too. Ask questions and listen to them talk about their passions and dreams for their ministry and area of influence. Then do whatever you can to help them be successful in their role. Encourage your leaders to start thinking about and planning for the fall and beyond during June, July, and August so they are ready, equipped, and inspired to launch big in the fall.
- NAVIGATE THE CHANGES TOGETHER FOR THE FALL
Summer is a time of sharpening. This season is a time to “A.S.S.E.S.S.” your situation. A.S.S.E.S.S. means, Always-Seeking-Strategy-Enlargement and Sustainment. Ask yourself where God is leading both your church and you in the next season. What needs to get stronger in your life as a leader, and how can you intentionally focus over the summer to launch strong in the fall.
Summer is a time to grow and give. People tend to have better and more relaxed attitudes in the summer, and things are poised to grow. Provide critical areas for your people to give to and grow in during the summer to bring revitalization. Challenge your people to give more to the church and to global and local missions and to serve more to make an impact. Encourage families to serve together and challenge your people to pray more for their neighborhoods. The most important gift you can give people is permission to lead with your blessing to start something new and own it.
Summer is a time to grow as a pastor. God is more interested in revitalizing you than your church. The mood of the leader is the mood of the team. The summer is a time to work on growing you. Spend some time in self-reflection and identify areas where you need to grow. Pray about what God would have you study and preach on in the next year and start working on your yearly preaching calendar. Map out where God is leading your church in the future.
These exercises will prepare you better to hear from God and will give you more confidence as you move ahead. Make sure to add to your calendar your vacations, special speakers, dates with your spouse, anniversaries, time with your children, and all those special events surrounding the church. Remember, your preaching calendar drives your church forward. Take time and get away so that you can hear from God. This allows you to lead God’s people into the fall and beyond.
Yes, summer is a time for relaxation, but it is also time to plan and engage. Remember to engage in some F.U.N. this summer!