Summer Slump? 5 Ways to Boost Family Ministry
No school! Vacation time! Road trip! Backyard BBQ!
Church . . . ?
Of all the summer activities, church and Sunday school usually rank somewhere near the bottom of the list. Rather than sticking with their usual Sunday routines, many families tend to leave town, park themselves by the pool, or spend all day Sunday at the baseball diamond during the summer months.
The “lazy days” attitude of summer certainly has an impact on church attendance. Seeing empty pews on Sunday mornings can be a real motivation killer for church staff. And, taking the summer off from church isn’t good for the faith of families, either.
How can you turn a summer slump into a summer surge for family ministry? Plan events and programs - fun, engaging, family-orientated and Bible-based activities that will keep families coming back for more! And, along with each family event or activity, plan something to send home - an informational handout or small gift that will keep the kids and adults engaged at home during the week.
Use the list below to start brainstorming and pick one or two events for each month this summer.
1. Family Bible Bee
Yes, there is a National Bible Bee, but you don’t need to get that competitive. Open your fellowship hall and host your own Bible trivia night for families. Invite families to bring their own drinks and an appetizer to share. Don’t worry—there’s no need to write your own questions. Simply search “Bible trivia” online to get premade questions and answers. Or, download an app and project the screen in front of your audience. Be sure to offer a few kid-friendly questions in each round.
- Send home: Bible trivia flash cards. Encourage families to play a round each night after dinner. (You can find free flash cards here or here. It’s also fairly easy to make your own using a template.)
2. Pack-a-Picnic Sunday
Invite families to stay after services on Sunday and gather for a picnic. You could drive to a nearby park or have your picnic on church grounds. If your budget allows, order drinks, fried chicken, and cookies. Ask each family to bring their favorite picnic side dish. Plan a few games to play after lunch - like ladder toss, croquet, three-legged race, blanket run, or a scavenger hunt.
- Send home: Give each child a container of bubbles, a small pack of sidewalk chalk, and a bag of M&M’S candy. Print a copy of this object lesson for each family to take home.
3. Tutoring Outreach
Partner with your local school system to offer summer tutoring. This is ideal for families with kids in high school. Parents and kids can read to younger children from the neighborhood or help older children with subject-specific material. You might consider piggybacking the tutoring with your midweek services. For example, offer tutoring from 4–5:30 p.m., a meal from 5:30–6:30 p.m., and church or Bible study at 7 p.m. You may even see some of the tutor families stay for your church activities!
- Send home: Give each family (tutor students and members of your church) a Christian book to take home. Write your church’s contact information and service times inside the front cover. If your budget allows, consider including a pack of pencils and other school supplies, too.
4. Go Fishing
Plan a Saturday morning fishing event for families. Head to a lake that rents fishing equipment or ask the avid anglers in your ministry to bring a few extra poles to share. Before families head home, gather for a fish-themed devotion - consider focusing on Jonah; Matthew 14:13–21; or John 21:1–14.
- Send home: Print a Bible verse from your devotion and three follow-up questions for families to discuss at home. Tape the paper to a pack of gummy worms or Swedish fish. If you want to get extra creative, wrap the candy bags in fish netting.
5. Plant a Garden
Summer is the ideal time to plant a vegetable garden and watch it grow. It’s a great activity for families with plenty of work for both children and adults. Consider creating a garden together as a church body or assigning a small plot to each willing family in your ministry. (Before you get started, you may want to read this garden guide for churches, which was written by A Rocha, a Christian nature conservation organization.) Gardening provides an easy opportunity to teach families about faith. Talk about the mustard seed (Matthew 17:20), God making all things new (Revelation 21:5), God’s provision for his people (Luke 12:22–32), or The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1–23).
- Send home: When you plant the vegetables, have each family plant an herb in a mason jar. They can take home this “garden” and watch it grow. Also, pick a song that relates to your Bible story and sing it while you’re gardening at church. Send home the lyrics with the families and encourage them to sing the song while they water their herb at home.
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