Stay Connected: Summer & Small Groups

In the past most people’s holidays had a tendency to coincide with the school ones. Things are ever-changing in as our Western society is becoming more complex and fragmented. While most Small Groups in most churches are taking a well-deserved break, a few will probably carry on – attempting to connect with those unaffected by the holiday season.

I see the weekly small groups as one of the two wings that makes a congregation ‘fly’ (along with the Sunday gatherings) and they are the circles that enhance the rows (A. Stanley). Therefore they are vital to the spiritual well-being of both the disciples as well as the church community as a whole.

Here are some (hopefully) helpful ideas to still support and encourage one another during the next few weeks:
  1. Keep praying for those in your small group. Do a list. Find out their needs/passions and hardships. Keep at it. Let them know you’re praying for them.This will be such a support to them.
  2. Keep in touch, even if you’re not meeting, you can still e-mail, text, Facebook, Tweet, Skype, Facetime or whatever the verb for using What’sApp is – what I’m saying is, there’s no excuse nowadays.
  3. Keep an eye on those who might be either particularly vulnerable or lonely. They might never ask for help but very often if you pay attention, you will see their need.
I’d rather keep the list short as there might be a chance we will do at least one of those. Maybe you have even better suggestions. Whatever you do, don’t do NOTHING. Very often it is in those ‘off the calendar’ times that we can prove that we are more than an organised club that functions on duty rather than delight.

And if you’re really stuck – there might be more ideas here:

Summer Small Group Ideas

Usually the summer – i.e. month of August can be an opportunity to take a break and come back hungry and refreshed. In our modern world people take holidays at different times through the year so we need to be flexible about the meeting/diary choice. So here are some suggestions I can make:

If your group is still meeting here are some ideas:
  1. do something different! chose something that suits your demographics/context
  2. take turns to lead on a topic that someone is passionate about
  3. run the group as a book club: either reading a skinny book/month or study a short book in the bible (Ruth, 2 Peter, Philippians)
  4. watch a suitable Christian DVD (Walk Across the Room) and discuss afterwards
  5. take time to have a social
  6. invite a guest to talk about a ministry/mission
  7. invite a guest to tell their ‘life story’
  8. use the month to serve together in a practical way: i.e. spruce up Hunter St.; do hardening for ill people
  9. plan a lunch together after church one Sunday
  10. rotate venues for more variety
If your group is not meeting here are some ideas: 
  1. pray personally every day for 1-2 people in your group
  2. text/email them with an encouragement/bible verse
  3. visit another group(s) that are still going on over the summer
  4. offer your practical services: taking someone shopping, help with garden or DIY
  5. use the time allocated to the small group meeting to catch-up each week with one of your fellow small group members not away on holiday
  6. use the time allocated to the small group meeting to go visit someone who is unwell
  7. do a personal Bible study in the ‘one another’ of the New Testament – Google it
  8. if you’re a current leader/aspiring leader in a small group – why not read a small group book (anything by Donahue/Robinson would do)
  9. offer to babysit for a young couple in the church – giving them an opportunity for a break
  10. use the time allocated to input spiritually into your own family: movie/prayer/reading

Caring in Small Groups

Some of the best care in small groups is done in-between meetings. As leaders  and members, we are responsible to model, encourage and inspire care.

Paul brings a brilliant exhortation in Philippians 2:1-4.:‘1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.’

Some of the suggested activities might not be appropriate for all – but you could encourage others in your small group to serve in these ways:

  • Casual visit – ‘dropping by to see how you are’
  • Prearranged visit – ‘may I call to see you this afternoon’
  • Phone call – ‘I’m just checking to se that you’re ok’
  • Card – ‘Just to let you know that you are in our thoughts and prayers’
  • Flowers – ‘these may express what I find difficult to say in my own words’
  • Deliver a meal – ‘this may help relieve some of the presure’
  • Sharing in a task – ‘Can you help me/can I help you?’
  • Meeting for a meal/coffee – ‘let’s do lunch…’
  • Social Together – ‘going to play some golf, concert, etc’
  • Babysitting – ‘why don’t you both have some time together’
  • Practical help – ‘how can I help?’