Thanks to Rev. Rebel Hurd, assistant to the bishop in the Northwestern Minnesota Synod, ELCA, for sharing this pile of Great Ideas in the NWMN Northern Lights Newsletter!
Rev. Hurd wonders, ‘What is your strategy for keeping people in your congregation/parish engaged this summer?’
Then immediately critiques the question by wondering how we define ‘engaged’ – and reframes the question as, ‘How is your church nurturing your congregation’s faith practices this summer? Whether they are physically with you or not?’
Yea for critiquing assumptions as a way to open up possibilities!
Her creative suggestions include multiple ways to remind folx that no matter where they go, God goes – and so does the church:
- use the Text-Em-All app to share prayers and respond across the entire congregation
- invite a leader to watch online worship to share an engagement question for how people might live into each week’s sermon or worship theme
- write a ‘campfire question’ about a favorite Bible story (or theme), wrap it up in a s’mores kit and share it with members heading off on a camping trip or lake visit
- invite folx to a church lawn meditation – use a single smartphone to share the experience with anyone, anywhere
- a Summer Care Team can write handwritten notes to members away at camp or at the lake
- for kids attending Bible Camp: pray for them in worship – and tell them you’re doing so!; send them notes and a small care package item
- share camp songs in worship throughout the summer – invite those returning from camp to share their favorites!
- encourage livelier worship: dance, laugh, be extra welcoming of visitors (Hurd notes that summer is the prime time for families to relocate – keep this in mind for outreach opportunities and in-house hospitality!)
- Midweek summer zoom Bible study keeps folx connected even if their away
- create a summer/growth/fruitfulness scavenger hunt of photos – and/or create a shared congregational ‘icon’ (image, stuffed animal, etc.) that anyone and everyone can take along on trips – take photos wherever it goes – and share on Facebook or the website to share memories and adventures, and affirm belonging no matter where folx go
- a summer sermon series on God in the movies (or musicals – Rev. Dr. Michael Piazza does this every year; or favorite summer TV shows); have an outdoor movie night and invite EVERYONE – then include that movie in Sunday’s sermon! (See our Pop Culture lib guide for few suggestions; we’d love to share your ideas with others – so let us know if you do this and which movies you choose!)
- And it’s okay if all of this sounds exhausting: you can also ‘Practice Purpose Making: take a break from creating content and engage with the events already happening in your communities. Show up as the congregation together. Be the church together.’
- AND COMMUNICATE REGULARLY! Update Facebook or webpage information at least once a week: keep regulars, newcomers and wider community members in the know as to where you’ll be and what you’ll be doing.
Thanks Rebel, for this slough of incredible summer Great Ideas!!
Read the full write-up here.