They can’t wait for it! They count the days down to it! Then when it finally comes, we hear the dreaded statement. Mom, there is nothing to do today! We hear the whine in their voices. Boredom has set in somewhere between day six and day ten of summer vacation. As parents and ministry leaders, we shake our heads and remind our kids of the many ideas we have offered to make their summer days more fun; and we wish we had such boredom issues.
As Director of Family Ministries at my church, I hear that story time and time again from our families. I was determined to do something for our parents to overcome those moments and help families create a fun, connected, and purposeful summer. I also desired to encourage families to stay involved with our congregation amid the many personal activities and vacations. Our leadership strongly encourages family time and true Sabbath rest, but we also risk the complete disconnection when families allow life to carry them away from local fellowship. So, we decided to find ways to meet them in the middle and challenge them to create a Jesus Son-shine space in their summer.
So, we decided to find ways to meet them in the middle and challenge them to create a Jesus Son-shine space in their summer.
Each month, I send home a short newsletter to our families with ideas and challenges for the family to do together. We just came through a lesson series on prayer, so I challenged the parents to prayer-walk with their children. In the newsletter, there are prayer prompts and walk location ideas to get them started, which gives everyone a heavenly purpose for their daily walks and even got some of their neighbors involved along the way.
Our families also host “son-shine” days at their homes - weekday play-dates with a purpose. We advertise the several host locations and encourage everyone to pack a picnic lunch and come on out for some fun. I visit each site to offer a craft station, games, and storytime. Each activity connects to the Sunday service. We encourage the host families to invite neighbors as a “soft approach” to evangelism. I share the gospel at each function and offer prizes for bringing friends to church. Often, the crafts are service-driven with the purpose of blessing veterans, widows, shut-in families, etc. The kids learn to give of themselves and bless before they are blessed. We experience “guest traffic” during the summer as a result of these intentional play days. Not only do the visitors come, but our families who did the inviting are challenged to attend with them, which further encourages regular church attendance.
We also schedule community events such as swim parties, service projects, and a Back-to-School Bash. All of which are geared toward the “invite to church” for both our families and their invitees. We advertise in every form of media, but the personal face-to-face invite is still the most successful tool in encouraging attendance, especially during those disconnected summers.
For our families who like to travel and camp, attendance can be sporadic on Sundays. We have learned to adjust and provide family outings and even two camping-style holiday weekends that offer the best of both worlds. Our families spend Memorial and Labor Day weekends together and host our worship servicesfrom the local campground. The families who do not attend the actual weekend look forward to “Sunday on the grounds.” We live stream from the campground, so our church members still have church even if they remain home.
In July, we hold our annual summer picnic one Sunday and live stream from the local park pavilion. These events again act as a “soft invite” outreach approach and appeal to some of our unchurched relatives who are willing to “do church differently.” We no longer dread the summer concerning attendance. We now see the earthly summer sunshine as our opportunity for heavenly Son-shine!
Angie Kuhn is the Family Ministry Director at LifeSpring Christian Church (River of Life PA Conference). She and her husband Tiger and have three grown children who are now blessing them with grandbabies. Angie has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and has served her church in various ways for the past 15 years. In 2012 she launched a widow’s ministry called “Tea for Two.” This ministry serves ladies who need to bond and heal as they search for purpose in a new season of life. This summer, Angie will serve as the junior camp director for her conference. In her free time, Angie enjoys watching the grandbabies, working in her yard, crafting, and reading. Her passion for raising up little kingdom warriors comes from discovering Christ at an early age. She desires for the next generation to enjoy the saving grace our Lord shows her every day.