With the country coming out of lockdown (hopefully) and emerging into a new normal, the following are five things to focus on and plan towards as we enter the summer months.
Take the time and intentionally invest in connecting personally with everyone in your church over the summer. We have done this regularly throughout the pandemic and will do so again over the spring/summer months. Every household in our church will get a fun delivery (around our theme), a call from our congregational care team, and a call from one of our pastors. Although this is a big investment of time (obviously done differently depending on your church size and context), it has been key to helping people stay connected, cared for, and has been a huge encouragement to our pastors, callers, and connectors. In a season without casual in-person conversations, this is vital to keeping your community connected and cared for.
As a leader, I sense a strong narrative vacuum entering the summer and intentionally plan to fill that void with something constructive and positive (the problem with vacuums is that something will fill it – good leaders know this and are proactive at shaping and filling them). In stark contrast to the negative narratives existing in the cultural ether and to build on the growing sense of enthusiasm and excitement of loosening restrictions, I want our church to be organizationally prepared with things exuding fun, excitement, and momentum as we move into the summer. It takes planning and almost a sixth sense of where we are going to be, so you can be prepared to meet that space with your plans. I have a strong sense that there will be excitement as we hit the summer and renewed optimism after a long Covid winter. As a result, we will be cultivating lots of fun in our church. We have a fun theme, missional activities to help our people connect with their neighbours, fun gathering events (that we can execute regardless of restrictions), and lots of levity planned.
Connected with the above, I also think people are starved for group celebrations. We have gone over a year without birthday, anniversary, graduation, etc. celebrations. Lean into celebrating this summer and into the fall. Budget more for this and do more than you have ever done. People are starved for it! Celebrate everything you can think of and have fun doing it.
Evaluation and Planning
Take the summer to evaluate and plan for the fall. This fall calls for proactive strategic thinking. You only have so much time and resources. How you deploy budget, ministry, staff, communication resources and volunteers is crucial. Take time to think this out with several scenarios (depending on restrictions, etc.). Additionally, consider your online ministry and its future. Don’t lose all the gains you have made in this Covid season. Intentionally grow these areas and do it in a way that works in tandem with your in-person ministry. This will be key to the future of flourishing churches in our new normal. To aid in this, I created a free online ministry evaluation guide that you can use with your team. View/download it here.
Connect with Your Neighbourhood
In the last year, people have moved, readjusted routines, and reconsidered their priorities. As a result, people are in a unique space to consider church and this aspect of their life. There may be people who have moved into your community and are now looking for a church, there may be people who are now rethinking the need for God in their life and want to re-engage with a faith community for them and their family, etc. Invest this summer in communicating to your surrounding community that you exist and care about them. Embrace a season of invitation both corporately through your communication and advertising strategy but also encourage and empower your people to invite their friends and neighbours (some of which will be new over the last 18 months).
After the most challenging ministry season of our generation, be sure to rest over the summer. Take all your holidays, slow down, and be sure to care for yourself and have others care for you. I wrote about this and the unique season ahead in my previous post. Don’t underestimate the precarious and dangerous season ahead. Church leadership is hard. You are often leading on the ledge alone while calling people to a place they don’t want to go. This is why God gives some the spiritual gift of leadership. If you have this gift, the church needs you in this next season. It is time to lead your church into its future with great purpose and persistent hope.
Bring on the summer!
This summer will be unique in the life of your church. Lean into it, make the best of it, and care for yourself as you do. Bring on the summer!