How Can a Small Group Continue to Thrive Through the Summer?

Summer can be a difficult time for small groups. Should your group keep meeting? Should your group take time off? Should you do something different for the summer? Should you do nothing for the summer?

I think each group needs to figure this out on their own. Your group's own culture will determine what you should do for the summer. However, I'm of the mindset that you should do something! Summer can provide several great opportunities for unique relationship building.

This morning, I came across this helpful blog post by Rob Bentz. He suggests 4 things that will ensure your group fails this summer. These are good suggestions (and good things to avoid!). As always, eat the meat and spit out the bones!:

1. Stay in touch on Facebook only
Be sure to avoid any face-to-face time. Don’t get together for a barbeque. Don’t meet together for a few minutes at church. Don’t even set up play-dates for the kiddos. Just type out a friendly message every other week or so.

2. Don’t Mention your Family’s Summer Plans 
Going away for a week this summer? Go stealth with your groupmates. Just leave. Enjoy yourself. Then when you return, don’t tell anyone. Be sure not to tell your group members about your summer schedule. Hide your family calendar at all costs! 

3. Don’t Pray for Each Other
Praying for your group members might actually draw you back into getting together as a group again—you know, a heart connection. So keep it simple—don’t pray for them. Tell them on Facebook that you’ll pray, but be sure not to follow through.

4. Agree to Get Together in the Fall

If you can go an entire summer without meeting, you’ve set a pattern that will continue in the fall—no small group meetings! No more times of Bible study and discussion. No more group prayer times. No more “doing life together”. Congratulations, you’ve successfully ensured that your small group is a thing of the past!

Over the past few years, my group has developed an informal "calendar" of summer events. It looks something like this:

  • Last Wednesday of the Year: Meet for ice cream at a local ice cream stand
  • Memorial Day: Gather for cookout and parade watching
  • Sometime in the Summer: Meet at one member's house for swimming and dinner cooked in a trash can
  • July 4: Tailgate downtown and watch the fireworks
  • Sometime in August: Gather at a park for a "dumpbag dinner"

Not everyone makes it to each of these events, but most of us do, and they provide a great touchstone for us to stay in each other's lives even though we're all going in different directions.  What traditions can your group start this year?