by Brit Gilman
I used to run races. One of my reasons for stopping was because I couldn’t discipline myself to run at a pace that was appropriate to my actual fitness level. Rather than slowing down, I just kept running too fast, too hard. But now I miss it. I miss being in good shape, the feeling of accomplishment and, to be perfectly honest, the prize at the end (even the ones that everyone gets!).
Leading a small group is like running a race. It demands endurance and perseverance to shepherd your group members throughout the year. But if you lead your small group like how I ran races you’ll end up tired, frustrated and tempted to hang it up. I don’t want that for you. Thankfully, the summer time is a great way for you to change the pace of your leadership so that you can get the refreshment you need to keep leading your group into many seasons of fruitful ministry.
Here are 3 key reminders to help you when planning your summer schedule:
1. Rest is Biblical
Even Jesus took breaks (Mark 1:35). Jesus was performing ministry as the Son of God and yet he still found it helpful and necessary to include times of rest in his busy schedule. How much more, then, do you need to find a way to get refreshed in your work for Christ?
2. Delegation is Part of Discipleship
Let me be clear here. It’s not a good plan to choose to simply not meet all summer. That would have damaging effects on your ministry. Instead, look at the summer as a way to take a step back to allow others to step up into leadership. That’s what discipleship is all about, right? Making disciples! The summer can be a great time to help some of your members begin to take the lead with some lower pressure assignments.
First, we recommend changing your pace to meeting only 2 times per month. One meeting time should be focused on some sort of discipleship activity, and the other should focus on getting your group together socially either to serve together or just to have fun! Try to involve your members in the planning process as much as possible. For example, have someone in your group host a game night or a backyard barbecue. Get two members working together to come up with a service activity for the group. Have an individual or a couple lead group for a night. There are many possibilities, but the idea is to get your members involved in the leadership process. The lighter schedule should help take some of the pressure off you to come up with a plan every single week.
3. The Plan is Simple
Once you’ve enlisted the partnership of your group, plan the summer ahead of time together. I’ve always liked the saying, “Fail to plan—plan to fail.” In other words, if you put no effort into planning, then don’t expect smooth sailing and good results. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep it simple. Remember, one “serve or social” night and one discipleship night per month. Here are some ideas for each category to help get you started:
– Family picnic at a home or a park
– Game night
– Formal date night
– Volunteer at Feed My Starving Children (or any other local organization)
– Do some free yard work for a neighbor or someone in need from your church
– Prepare boxed meals to distribute to the homeless in your area
– Attend a worship, prayer, or revival night at your church
– Do a “prayer walk” through a local neighborhood near your church and invite others to attend a service
– Share your testimonies with each other or discuss your “year end reviews” with each other, sharing how God has been changing you throughout the ministry year
To help the planning process go as smoothly as possible, we’ve provided this helpful worksheet to complete with your group. Download it now for free!