Editor’s Note: We compiled our best stories on Vacation Bible School, service projects, and retreats into one easy reference page. Visit our Plan for Summer landing page for more great ideas.
Summer is a time for fun! The season provides us a great opportunity to change things up, rethink some of the ways we can engage people in mission and ministry, and involve new people in new ministries. Here is a smattering of ideas that just might inspire you to experience a little summer fun in your congregation, community and connection!
Vacation Bible School is not just for children!
Consider offering adults different workshops while children are in VBS. It might even mean offering VBS at night or converting it to a weekend retreat. You might offer a Bible study around the Scriptural texts that the children are studying. For the more adventurous among us, look at the variety of talents and gifts that lie before you. How might you invite people into leadership roles outside the realm of Sunday school and Bible study? Do you have a painter? Invite them to lead a basic painting class – the participants could be responsible for purchasing their own supplies. What about a potter or sculptor or quilter or knitter? Scrapbooking, stamping and gift-card making are all great workshops also. Who among you may have the wisdom and compassion to facilitate a discussion group on parenting teenagers, or young children or raising children in a single-parent household? What about a class for golfers or tennis players? There is always room for people to engage in mission. Where can adults participate in hands-on mission work? That could be landscaping around a home or community center, painting rooms for someone in need, cooking meals and delivering them to shut-ins – and the list goes on.
Wild Wednesdays or Fun Fridays!
This is an idea that works especially well for congregations in neighborhoods or communities. Using mass mailings, door hangers, banners and personal invitations, invite families and children to come every Wednesday morning (or Friday morning) to the church for Wild Wednesday or Fun Friday. The church will host some fun activity for those that gather. It is always a nice treat if cold water and lemonade are also available. These activities might include:
- Bikes, Trikes and Scooters – a morning to utilize the parking lot to ride and have fun.
- Wet & Wild Day – get out the hoses, the sprinklers, some inflatable pools, and don’t forget the water balloons.
- I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream for Ice Cream – gather the supplies for ice cream sundaes, meet on the playground and enjoy a cool treat in the hot sun.
- A & C in the AC – Who doesn’t like to do cool arts and crafts projects inside the comfort of an air-conditioned building? You don’t have to have a master plan … simply pull out all the odds and ends from the closets, cupboards and classrooms and encourage people to come up with the most creative piece of art. You can even give out certificates to make it a bit more significant and fun.
Go beyond the church walls! Youth model well for us the connections that exist between fellowship and service. What about involving your congregation in a week of mission mania? Look around your community for places of service and ministry. Simply break into small groups based on interest and skill levels and go out in service to God and one another! The possibilities for service are endless: cooking, serving and cleaning at a local food pantry or soup kitchen; partnership with Habitat for Humanity; relationship building and games at an adult daycare facility; maintenance and upkeep work at a community playground or park; or taking Vacation Bible School to a local neighborhood or community center.
Short and Sweet Summer Choir
Summer marks the end of school and the conclusion of many church activities, groups and gatherings. People have lighter schedules in the summer. Seize the opportunity to invite people to be a part of a summer choir. You may change rehearsal from a weeknight to just before worship on Sunday morning or simply shorten the rehearsal time during the week. You could have the congregation vote on their favorite choir pieces and hymns and then have the choir sing these anthems and hymns throughout the summer months. Step out of the box and give the choir a break and utilize the musical gifts of others in the congregation. This may be instrumentalists, soloists, duets, etc.
Healthy, Wealthy and Wise
How can you promote stewardship in ways that speak to your congregation? Get up and get walking! Healthy people need physical activity. Develop walking and running groups that gather and go at various times throughout the day and evening. Utilize the more relaxing time of summer to offer classes focused on financial stewardship, budget planning, savings and investments. Spend time and invest energy in becoming more “green.” Encourage everyone to get pedometers and record their weekly steps on a board at the church. Produce cloth sacks that people can use for their grocery shopping, and invite people to donate coffee mugs to the church that can be used in lieu of plastic foam cups. Go as a community to various cultural and arts centers or consider different communities of faith to broaden your understanding and appreciation for other styles and expressions of faith.
No matter what you do this summer find ways to embrace and celebrate community, enjoy the beauty of God’s creation and have FUN!
--The Rev. Michelle L. Foster, Safe Sanctuaries and Family Ministries, Mississippi Conference