Summer is here! School is out! Vacations are coming! But are we having LifeGroup this week?
The summer is a lot of fun for adults, families, students, and kids. But for LifeGroup Leaders, summer can sometimes be frustrating. When I was a new LifeGroup Leader, I thought I was prepared for summer. My wife and I led a discussion with our group at the beginning of May to see if they wanted to meet during the summer or take some time off. They had expressed genuine and unanimous interest in continuing to meet weekly through June, July, and August. However, that interest turned out to be unrealistic. Between birthday parties, vacations, or family visits, my wife and I would often be ready to lead the group, but no one showed up, having cancelled at last minute. The experience we had was not unique to us. It’s actually quite common.
So, then, how do we navigate the summer months as LifeGroup Leaders? Let me give you a few tips I’ve learned over the years of leading a group that might help you plan for the summer.
- Consider meeting only once or twice each month through the summer. If you expect your group to show up weekly during the summer because they can do so in the Fall and Spring, you’re likely to be disappointed. So consider making the summer schedule more laid-back.
- Remember that, as the Leader, it is not your job to coax or convince people to show up to the group meeting. It is your job to let the group know what to expect during the summer – when the group will meet, what you will do, and so on.
- Get ideas from the group. You might be the one to decide that you won’t do a study over the summer or that the group will only meet once a month, but you can get ideas about what to do during and between the times you meet. Allow the group to have a say in what group meetings will look like over the summer.
- Consider having the summer time focus on relationships rather than study. Organize monthly gatherings or activities, such as cook-outs, game nights, a family baseball game, or a group service project. Encourage group members to reach out to each other weekly by phone or text or, better yet, in person.
- Promote ownership in the group by asking group members to plan the next group activity and communicate those plans to the whole group. This allows you, as the leader, to have a rest from planning but also it allows the group members to feel that they are a vital part of the group (because they are!). Give them some direction, such as reminding them to keep the cost of activities low so more people can attend or to send out emails early to allow people to plan, but allow them to own what you've asked them to do. You can also identify someone to keep track of prayer requests and needs through the summer and send those to the group.
- Hold the summer loosely. If people show up to the group meetings, that is great! If people cannot make it for one reason or another, give them grace. Check in with them to make sure they are okay, but don’t judge their reasons for not attending.
During the early years of leading a group, I expected the summer season to be just like any other season. I expected the group to meet weekly and be ready to discuss the study for that week. Those expectations led to frustration when the reality of summer schedules hit. So, as you plan the summer for your LifeGroup, focus on keeping the relationships going, and be prepared to pick your regular schedule back up in the Fall.