Summer. Just saying the word brings memories of freedom and play. Summer offers opportunities to get outside and enjoy the weather and gather in ways you may not during the rest of the year. It is a time that feels a little less stressful. Time appears to expand. It is a great time to build connections with your small group and do things a little differently.
With the recent pandemic, it seems that many churches have returned to the foundation of the early church we find in Acts 2:42, assured that the basics were in place in their faith community—teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer. As they formed those early house churches, they were basically building small groups where they would maintain their faith in Jesus in community.
So here are ten ways to maintain community with your small group this summer.
- Spend time together. Although this summer is different in many ways from others in the past, finding opportunities to spend time together is always part of building and maintaining community with your small group, especially during the summer. Technology really does help during this season of physical distancing. Call, text, and hang out together on a video chat. If it is safe to do so in your city, spend time together as a small group. Do a backyard cookout or gather around a fire pit to tell stories, jokes, and sing. Look for ways to be together with space enough for all to feel comfortable and be safe.
- Minister together. Through your church or a local ministry, discover a way that your group can work together to share in a way that benefits others. Gather to box up canned goods, cleaning supplies, diapers, or toilet paper. Knowing that you are serving together helps maintain community. All in the small group can know they are in it together.
- Work together. Everyone in your small group has projects. You know, the ones that you are “going to get to” but need an extra hand or a friend to help get it done. In advance, organize days, times, and supplies in order to gather at the home of your small group members. Ask the group to bring a sack lunch or potluck. Then complete the projects. It may be painting a room at one person’s home or building a treehouse at another. The goal is that each small group member gets the help they need and a finished project by the end of the summer.
- Read together. In addition to what your group normally does during the summer months to study Scripture, consider also reading a book together during the summer. Look for something that will take them deeper in their faith or a book that is on a topic that would encourage everyone in the group. You can discuss via video chat or sitting on blankets at the park or someone’s yard.
- Write together. It seems that with the pandemic, writing cards has made a comeback. Ask for a list of homebound or senior adults that may be social distancing more this summer and write them notes. Invite kids to draw pictures or to put stickers on the envelopes. This is something simple the small group can do in people’s own homes or in one sitting at a location.
- Cook together. Cook a meal for friends, family members, or neighbors. Or cook for one another! Ask each small group member to cook their favorite meal and either deliver it or have a pickup time for the others in the group. Everyone usually feels a sense of relief when they know they don’t have to think about dinner that evening! The spirit of generosity builds up your small group.
- Be kind together. Random acts of kindness is another way small groups can bond and meet the needs of others. As you find out the needs of others in your church and community, look for ways to meet those needs. Combine your resources to help pay a bill for someone. Do yard work for someone after surgery. Drop off flowers at someone’s front door for no reason. Just be kind to others.
- Celebrate together. Over the summer, someone in your small group will have a birthday, an anniversary, or another milestone. Find a way to celebrate together. It may be driving by with signs and balloons or dropping off cupcakes. But don’t miss the sweet moments to celebrate in community.
- Laugh together. We all need laughter to lighten the heaviness that can set in due to life circumstances or global viruses. Discover games that you can play as a group or have a “Whopper Contest” to see who can tell the biggest “whopper” of a lie. Think of ways that your group can gather and just enjoy one another and escape some of the pressures and worries of the world.
- Pray together. Although this may include prayer walks or other ways to pray for those outside of your group, the main thing you always want to do is pray together. It is a given with all of these other ways of connecting. Before, during, and after anything that you do together, include prayer. Although it is the last thing on this list, it is the everything that holds your small group together.
You can build or maintain community with your small group during the summer months in so many ways. Depending on where you live and the opportunities around you, plenty of options are available that will fit your group. Like the early church, let’s continue to devote ourselves to the Scriptures, fellowshipping, breaking of bread (sharing and serving), and praying in our small groups. Let’s not miss the beauty of community and the many opportunities to grow in our faith this summer!
What are some other ideas you have for small groups during the summer months?
Michelle Hicks is the managing editor for Journey devotional magazine with Lifeway Women. Michelle served as a freelance writer, campus minister, and corporate chaplain before coming to Lifeway. She is a graduate of the University of North Texas and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Michelle has a deep hunger for God’s Word and wants others to discover the abundant life they can have with Jesus as their Lord and Savior.