With summer almost over, there are still many opportunities for ministry that may not exist during the school year. During COVID churches are getting creative about ministry and outreach. Some churches are finding renewed focus and energy during the summer months, taking opportunities especially, for outreach with youth and children. Looking for some new ideas for summer ministry?
Here are four ideas for summer ministry that are working for some rural churches in Virginia.
- Take a break. That’s right. You read correctly. Take a break… from Wednesday evening programs – especially for adults. With many churches having evening VBS programs, people traveling on vacation, and the weather being good for recreational activities like camping, water sports, and hiking, attendance at midweek gatherings can wane to just a few people during those summer months. Take the time and energy you would normally use in planning a mid-week study and sink it into something else for a three month period. Taking a break with midweek gatherings creates a nice rhythm that communicates to people that its OK to focus on different ministries in different seasons.
- Cancel VBS. Yes. You also read that correctly. Cancel VBS… if the program is struggling and attendance and volunteers have been hard to come by for years, maybe God is calling your church to another kind of outreach. Some churches have moved VBS online this year, doing virtual activities, songs, and lessons. One church in Chatham, VA recognized that they were struggling to connect with a traditional VBS program. Challenges existed with canned curriculum from publishing houses and the same people volunteering every year to the point of burnout. Instead of VBS, they now (during non-COVID years) do a sports camp that reaches over a hundred kids, sharing the Gospel and love of God through a new ministry model.
- Ditch Your Building for a Week. That’s right. Leave the sanctuary, and take church to a different location. In our community, a river runs right through town, and our church has an annual event called Worship on the Water, right on the banks of the river. We only have one service that day, and we have a covered dish lunch (’cause you know food has to be involved). The most special part of our Worship on the Water event is that people each year have the opportunity to be baptized in the river, which creates a holy sense of place for the entire community, and reminds us all that the church is made of people – not a building. Many churches in rural communities are doing worship outdoors since COVID began, and have the space to socially distance, even if the entire congregation comes.
- Start a Zoom Bible study for the people that have left your church. The college-aged people to be exact. Many rural communities with struggling economies deal with what sociologists and demographers call brain drain. This is when the best and brightest leave rural communities for college and universities, and then get degrees in fields of expertise that do not even exist in their communities of origin. Because there are no jobs back home, they may never return. Students at university may descend on your church for a few months while on summer leave. Providing a Bible study and fellowship gathering for them over the summer can have a positive impact not only on the students, but communicate to their families that they are still loved and cared for by the church.
What “crazy” ideas do you have for summer ministry? Is your church doing anything unique or out-of-the-box over these next ten weeks? If so, let us know in the comments bellow!