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Summer comes with both opportunities and challenges to church growth. The challenge, of course, is family vacation season. Whole chunks of your parishioners may suddenly go missing for a week or two as they travel to vacation destinations. On the other hand, the summer break sometimes gives people the opportunity to explore church attendance in a fashion that they do not during the rest of the year.

Vacation Bible School

The biggest opportunity for churches during the summer is, of course, day programs for children. Traditionally called “Vacation Bible School” (or just VBS), is a common summer church event. Parents from all around the area will be looking for some place to put their children during the day while school is out, and your church’s willingness to be that place makes for the perfect method of attracting people’s attention – especially if you do it for free.

Studies show that many unbelieving parents still want religion to be a part of their youngster’s childhood, and so there is a solid chance that many of the children in attendance to VBS come from parents who are not regular church attendees.  This serves as a tremendous opportunity to draw parents to church if handled correctly.

Involve the Parents

Ways in which to do this include after-work or weekend activities in which parents are invited to do events with their children. Consider sending invitations to parents to come to the church on particular evening to see projects they have been working on or to participate in learning activities with their children. Host fairs, parties, picnics or other weekend activities to which parents are invited to take their children.

If these events are handled correctly, parents may be encouraged to attend church with their children, if for no other reason than to give their children a chance to attend Sunday School.

During evening events, it is important to involve the parents in the teaching activities. Perhaps your church could do a story-reading activity where parents are encouraged to take turns reading short Bible stories to the children. Or do a “game show” activity in which children and their parents form a team. The child picks a Proverb or a saying of Jesus from a hat, read it to their parent, and the parent and their child team up to explain what the scripture means. If they can’t, they pass to the next contestant.

The purpose of these activities, of course, is to make the parents really think deeply about what the Bible teaches and says. This also provides church growth opportunities.

Utilize Volunteers

As far as opportunities during the summer, the increased availability of some church members makes for a larger pool of volunteer for activities. Many teenagers, for instance, will be looking for a chance to help out in church events or programs.

During weekend events for children, consider having elders, deacons or other church staff circulate and speak to the parents. Engage them in conversations about the church, scripture or other ministry-related thoughts. The event becomes the perfect grounds for gentle evangelism, or encouraging parents to consider giving church a chance.

During the summer is the perfect time to offer volunteer events for the community, such as charity drives and soup kitchens. This will impress upon the community that the church lives out the charity that they preach, and will give community members the chance they’ve been seeking to do something to make a difference.

Weekend Fun

Of course, during the summer, your church is going to want to host as many weekend events as possible, which can be great opportunities for church growth. These might include such activities as:

  • Offering your church’s parking lot for sporting events, such as street hockey, skateboarding or basketball.
  • Holding Outdoor concerts
  • Fun Runs for charity
  • Girl Scout and Boy Scouts meetings and activities
  • Arts Festivals

Of course fun and entertainment are all good and well for making your church attractive to people who want involvement in the local community, but a serious difficulty in modern churches is the fact that their desire to appeal to the secular community has drawn focus away from the doctrine that is foundational to the church. In order to engage the spiritual needs of the community, consider including in weekend events a conference of some kind.

Along the same line as VBS, consider offering weekend daycare for children, allowing parents to do the occasional activity on the weekend with babysitting offered by the church. If your church shows itself willing to care for children, it will go a long way towards impressing upon parents that your institution is a caring and nurturing environment.

Address the Hard Questions

Among the most effective conferences in the current day and age are ones that sits down and discuss the increasing clash between worldviews. People are searching for the answers to questions about the nature of truth, how Christianity compares to other religions, how Christianity engages questions about evil, the existence of God, the Bible and science, Biblical contradictions, Hell and other questions that trouble people and keep them from embracing Christianity.

Of course, these are the kinds of questions that are difficult to address and engage. Fortunately, there are a number of ministries that do speak to these questions, and are willing to send speakers to conferences for local churches. If your church puts out the word that they are holding talks on truth, Islam, or atheism – it is almost guaranteed to attract the attention of the community.

Consider contacting organizations such as CARM, Stand to Reason, Cross Examined, RZIM, Ratio Christi and others, to see if they have local chapters willing to do talks on these subjects.

Alternately, your church could offer in addition to traditional Bible Studies, to do evening book studies on texts that address these very questions. People who wouldn’t ordinarily attend a Bible Study may be drawn to a study about supposed contradictions in Scripture.

Conclusion

Remember at any conference or event your church holds during the summer – always stress that your church offers childcare during the event. This is a sure-fire way to get attendance of the local community, and it can contribute to church growth. Enjoy the opportunities for ministry this summer – and make sure everyone else enjoys them, too!

Joel Furches is a writer who has worked for 15 years researching and writing on topics of religion. He has a BA in psychology and an MA in education. He can be found online at hubpages.com/@bombadere

 

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