Over the summer, congregations alter the pace of their activities. Many people travel; worship schedules change; and often, church classes, formation activities, and other shift into lower gear. During this calmer season, congregations’ needs differ from those the rest of the year. ChurchNext classes can be a valuable asset to church ministries under these adjusted conditions.
Many congregations begin their summers with Vacation Bible School. A class that many ChurchNext clients have found helpful is How to Run a Vacation Bible School with Dorothy Linthicum, a program director at Virginia Theological Seminary’s Center for the Ministry of Teaching. In this class, Dorothy addresses essential questions central to running a successful Vacation Bible School, offers suggestions about creating a VBS curriculum, and recommends ways to keep the chaos (at least marginally) organized.
Parents and caregivers have unique opportunities during the summer, when the chaos of scout meetings and soccer practice and school schedules usually calms down, to work with their children on matters related to spirituality without having to rush. Parents in your congregation might benefit from Holy Habits For Children, in which Valerie Hess helps adults teach children how to make spiritual habits part of their daily lives. Parents might also utilize Start a Family Devotional time with Anne Kitch. Christian education directors or other groups focused on children and families can offer For Groups versions of these classes early in the summer and invite parents to attend, or they can simply invite parents to take these courses on their own.
If your congregation has an active grounds care committee, a community garden, or simply a number of avid gardeners, consider offering Spirituality and Gardening with Christine Sine. Since many people garden actively during the summer, help them use the activity as a spiritual discipline. This would make a good adult forum topic or an interesting activity for your grounds committee or gardening club.
Some churches continue to offer adult forums during the summer. If your church offers adult forum, consider using ChurchNext classes to make the process simpler. It need not be complicated — just project the class onto a screen — or even on a computer if your group is small — and let your fellow congregants take the topic and run. If your church does not offer adult forum in summer, consider offering opportunities for remote learning. One church in North Carolina combined four classes focused on Jesus into one large summer class called Befriending Jesus. The class met in person several times over the summer, but they also took it remotely so that people could participate while on vacation.
We hope that you take the time over to nourish your body with the rich fruits of the season and your soul with the slower pace and opportunities to explore the natural world. Have a happy and fulfilling summer.