Summer is coming! Most kids and teachers are already counting down the days until summer vacation starts. For church leaders, though, summer months can be challenging. Statistics show that most churches see an attendance drop of 20-35% in June and July. There is even a name for this phenomenon – summer slump. When school lets out for the summer, often it feels like church activities also get put on hold for the summer. Many churches cut their programming during the summer due to low attendance and lack of volunteers. How might we as church leaders look at these months as an opportunity to invest in our families and encourage them to include God in their family adventures this summer?
Many churches invest a lot of time, money and energy into Vacation Bible School. VBS is a wonderful ministry and for many kids (and some adults) it is one of the highlights of their summer. However, putting on a great VBS is exhausting and requires a lot of resources. Does doing a great VBS week consume nearly all your time and resources for the entire summer? Are there other ways we can invest in our families during the summertime and help them continue to grow in their relationship with God? Parents and grandparents will spend extended periods of time with their kids over summer vacation. What tools can churches provide to help families have faith conversations at home?
Family Ministry Tools has a new summer resource for families called Quest in a Box. Quest in a Box is a box filled with all-age devotions and activities created to help families consider how to include God in all that they do this summer. Quest in a Box focuses on a Rule of Life for the summer based off of this question from the historic Westminster Shorter Catechism – “What is the chief end of man?” or in more modern language “why did God create us?” The answer in the catechism is “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Glorify God and enjoy God! That is the quest for the summer! Everything a family needs to complete the activities will be in the box. Churches buy a download which includes the devotions, activities, instructions for putting the boxes together and an Amazon shopping list for the needed supplies. Churches need to print the materials, buy the supplies, and pack the boxes. Learn more about Quest in a Box here: https://familyministrytools.org/summerquest/
Some churches have created Take Out Church kits which they hand out to families at the beginning of the summer. These kits usually include a Flat Jesus (the Christian version of Flat Stanley), conversation starters, Bible verses, and interactive prayer ideas. Vanessa Myers, a veteran children’s ministry leader, has a wonderful collection of these ideas on her blog: https://vanessamyers.org/take-out-church-a-summer-resource-for-families/
Many public libraries have great summer reading programs for all ages, but most public libraries do not have a large collection of faith based books. There are many great faith based books available that your families may not know about. Perhaps your church could purchase some of these books and sponsor a summer reading program. Churches could even start a book club or two to discuss the books. If you need help on finding books to include, the blog Aslan’s Library has a wonderful book list here: https://aslanslibrary.wordpress.com/booklist/
Are these ideas worth the investment of time and money? Carey Nieuwhof, pastor and author, says “The more you prioritize families, the more families will prioritize Sundays.” Take some steps this summer to show your church families how invested you are in their faith development, even while they are away on vacation!