Summer’s here! Kids are out of school, vacations are booked, camps are kicking off – the weather’s beautiful, and most of your responsibilities at church are taking a ‘summer sabbatical’, which means you’re off the hook for a few months! Great… right?
Growing up at my home corps, we actually looked forward to summer programs. Instead of sitting in Youth Band on Wednesday nights, we got to head to a nearby field for the church softball league we participated in. With no corps programs or schoolwork to prepare for on Sunday evenings, we instead gathered our snacks, our lawn chairs, slipped on our sandals and headed over to a corps member’s house for backyard Bible Study and fellowship. Sunday School classes took a break for the season, but we enjoyed breakfast together in the gym thru a rotation of volunteer hosts. The list goes on.
While I was fortunate enough to soldier at a corps that didn’t take full summer sabbaticals, they are incredibly prevalent in today’s Army. Here are their dangers:
- SUMMER SABBATICALS HALT MINISTRY MOMENTUM. After 8-9 months of regular events and Bible studies, offering nothing can stall the spiritual growth of your women and cause the programs to lose momentum. This will be difficult to regain months later when fall arrives and everything starts back up, competing for your attendee’s time.
- SUMMER SABBATICALS CREATE MISSED OPPORTUNITIES FOR CONNECTION. That woman who joined your corps in April and went to her first Women’s Camp? She’s on fire for God and is looking to get plugged in. Those moms who are so incredibly busy with their kids during the school year? Well, school’s out, the kids are at camp and mom’s home with an empty nest. Those women who are retired, those who are financially strapped, those who come as visitors, those who are working, business as usual… there are missed opportunities to connect when fully embracing the summer sabbatical. Consider too, that there are opportunities for women’s ministry that might exist only in the summer season. Programs planned during these months may attract more visitors or ‘new’ attendees from the corps because schedules have greater flexibility and meetings can be more laid back, casual and inviting.
- SUMMER SABBATICALS CAN HAMPER GROWTH AND CHANGE. Summer is a good time to test things that may not be possible or ideal during other parts of the year. For instance, with fewer people in attendance, smaller programs and less pressure, summer would be the perfect time for someone interested in leading to get their feet wet and take over (in your absence or in your presence). Summer is also the perfect time to test out a new women’s ministry event or idea. Thinking of changing your schedule or type of Bible study offerings? Use the summer to try it out and then you’ll be ready with tweaks and improvements come fall.