Should Groups Take a Summer Break this Year?

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“This is the course I wish I would have had 35 years ago when I started small group ministry.” – Steve Gladen

Presenting our new online training course – “Align!” Align will help you learn the small group ministry essentials. It features…

  • 8 HD video session taught by Steve Gladen 
  • A downloadable workbook
  • Lesson discussion questions
  • An official Small Group Network completion certificate
  • A special gift to help further your Small Group Ministry

Learn more by watching the free course introduction & enroll here!

Let’s just get this out of the way: 2020 is a year unlike any we’ve experienced as small group pastors, point people and leaders. Our models and methods have dramatically changed to accommodate a global pandemic. Although many of our communities are beginning to transition back to open businesses and limited gatherings, the effects of COVID-19 will be felt for some time. 

I state this because many of us (myself definitely included) have a somewhat routine approach to the summer season. Some churches offer short-term group options or special events in the summer. Others shift their small groups to BBQs and dinner parties. The majority of groups take some form of break in the summer months to free up schedules and allow for vacations. But what about this year?

Small groups have been a lifeline for countless people during this pandemic. For many people, small group meetings have been their only live, interactive connection with their church family, or even their only interaction with human beings other than their family. With this in mind, we must consider whether or not our regular approaches to summer need to change. Here are three summer options to think about:

Continued Online Groups
You may find that some of your groups are very much enjoying meeting online or are simply not comfortable gathering in-person yet. Some groups in our church have been able to reconnect with group members that moved out of the area but were eager to join virtual meetings. For these groups, it would be difficult to shift to BBQs without excluding people. Maintaining an online presence can help group members stay connected and engaged. 

Service Viewing Parties
In-person Sunday services are back! In some places. Sort of. While it is a joy to see people gathering together for worship again in many areas, for others it will be some time before this is possible. Even where it is possible, limitations on gathering size may still prevent some from attending. If local guidelines allow it, gathering with your small group to watch the live service together can be a great alternative. Sing together, pray together, and have a short discussion about the message afterward. You may feel the need to take a break from regular meetings, but you can at least experience church together. 

Split Groups
If you have larger groups or the summer schedule is still an obstacle, splitting co-ed groups into men’s and women’s groups can be a great option. This will help reduce gathering size and childcare needs for two-parent households. Also, rather than accommodating the schedules of 5 couples (10 people), you would only need to find the right time for 5 people. Would the women from your group consider getting together for coffee every-other Saturday through the summer? Is there a men’s curriculum the men from your group would want to go through? This could be a great opportunity.

Related Content: 3 Ways to Give Small Group Leaders a Break this Summer