Should your women’s ministry take a summer sabbatical?
A few months off won’t hurt, right? It will give your team a chance to recharge before hitting the ground running in the fall.
Women don’t really want to attend events in the summer anyway, right?
Placing your entire women’s ministry on a summer sabbatical is not something I recommend.
Strategic scheduling changes? Yes.
Hitting pause completely? No.
So why shouldn’t you take a break from all things women’s ministry over the summer?
10 Dangers of Summer Ministry Sabbaticals
1.Halting ministry momentum.
After 8-9 months of regular events and Bible studies, offering nothing stalls the spiritual growth of your women. While we know our women should have personal Bible study time, many do not and need the accountability and encouragement being in a Bible study group offers. Despite what we may want to believe, summer Bible studies are hugely successful! I’m currently in a six week study of The Law and we have 40 people showing up for a daytime class.
Eliminating summer meetings for your women’s ministry team halts the momentum of the team as well. Having taken a summer break from women’s ministry team meetings I can tell you it will place intense pressure on your team to prepare for fall either in the spring or much too quickly in the fall.
2. Missing opportunities for connection.
New women shouldn’t have to wait until fall to get connected. Truthfully, if there’s nothing for women to get plugged into immediately they will either never plug in or they’ll go somewhere else where they can plug in. Think about the new girl in town who knows no one and is starved for Christian fellowship, a summer event would be an answer to prayer for her!
3. Setting an expectation of low attendance.
As a teacher I was taught to set high expectations for my students – they would rise to the challenge and strive to meet them. The inverse is also true – set low expectations and people will meet them every time.
Christian fellowship and growth is just as important in July as it is in September, but our ministry calendars sure don’t reflect that truth.
4. Closing doors for visitors.
Your women are more likely to bring friends and neighbors to summer events (especially when encouraged to do so!). Summer schedules are often more flexible. There’s no rush for a mom to get home when school preparations aren’t necessary. Summer events are often more casual and inviting to seekers – say in comparison to a fall conference on prayer.
5. Missing opportunities for service work and missions.
Vacation Bible School for adults, mission trips, hosting a block party at a nearby apartment complex, handing out popsicles in a neighborhood next to the church – those ideas and many more usually occur in the summer months. See my post on 60 Service Project Ideas for more inspiration.
6. Stunting relationship growth.
You can blame it on the size of your church or busy schedules, but many of your women only connect with each other during your women’s ministry events and activities. I know I rarely see my Bible study girls outside of Bible study (not counting lunch plans immediately afterward). Losing those opportunities to connect over the summer can stunt and even set-back those relationships.
7. Devaluing smaller groups.
When we use the excuse that fewer people will be able to attend, those who are able to attend feel less valuable. Ouch!
Will your attendance be affected? Maybe. But look at it as a positive – not a negative! Smaller groups often yield more personal discussions and more opportunities for sharing and connecting. Your introverts may find a smaller group more enjoyable. God may just surprise you with the turnout!
8. Removing opportunities for team members to lead.
Summertime is a great time to let others take the lead on an event. There doesn’t seem to be the pressure that comes with planning a big fall or spring event. Let them lead in your presence or your absence.
9. Sticking to a scripted plan.
Summer is actually 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. Have a team member that wants to launch a monthly Bible Journaling group? Have her test the waters over the summer.
We need to stop giving our church members permission to dial back their participation in the summer.
I have yet to come across a verse in the Bible that recommends a summer siesta from all things church.
As you host summer women’s ministry events you will find:
- Moms will thank you for a break from all-day efforts of keeping their kids busy.
- Teachers who aren’t able to attend daytime Bible studies will jump at the chance to be a part of the group for the summer months.
- Slower summer schedules actually leave room for women to attend women’s ministry events and activities.
- When other church ministries take a summer sabbatical (while I wish they wouldn’t either) it does mean there is less on the church calendar to compete with.
If your team has already decided to take a sabbatical, prayerfully seek God’s direction for the rest of the summer and next year. There is still time to pull together an easy summer fellowship. For inspiration check out these 30 Summer Fellowship Ideas.
And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25 CSB
Side note: I believe there are times God calls us to take personal sabbaticals to intentionally pursue time with Him and to seek His direction. And if God is calling you to do so, be obedient and prepare your team to continue in your absence.
How does your women’s ministry team handle the summer months?
You may also want to read:
Summer Would You Rather Icebreaker Questions
Décor and Favor Ideas for Your Summer Event
30 Summer Fellowship Ideas
Debunking Summer Ministry Myths
5 Ways to Connect with Your Women this Summer
10 Reasons to Host a Summer Event
Summer Table Talk Cards
One year ago: Evening Women’s Bible Study in Panama
Two years ago: Summer Table Talk Cards
Three years ago: 4 Pillars of Women’s Ministry
Four years ago: 5 Essential Items for Your Speaker’s Welcome Bag