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Below you’ll find the transcript for the bonus episode – Should your women’s ministry take a summer sabbatical? Be sure to check out past episodes of the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast here.
Should your women’s ministry take a summer sabbatical?
Welcome to this bonus episode of the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast. Today we’re taking a break from our series on the foundations of women’s ministry to talk about summer sabbaticals.
I have to admit, I used to be okay with summer sabbaticals.
Our team had worked hard all year long. We were tired and we needed a break. Women weren’t really going to come to summer events anyway, right?
Over the years, God has changed my thinking on this topic. No matter where you stand on it, I hope you’ll listen and give it some prayerful consideration.
As I record this podcast in April of 2021, most of us are emerging from over a year of lockdowns. Your church may have been closed for most of last year. If you’ve had women’s ministry events and activities, many have probably been online and there’s a good chance you’ve been operating on a reduced schedule.
This year, especially, it’s important that we offer opportunities for our women to gather… even if your church has been more open than it’s been closed.
- There are women who have been slow to return and have been waiting to be fully vaccinated.
- In the last year, new women have started to attend your church. While I hope you’ve had the chance to meet many of them and they’ve gotten plugged into your women’s ministry, I suspect that many have not. You might not even know that they’ve been quietly attending online services for months.
- Most of your women are anxious to gather together in person.
Please don’t make them wait until fall.
Provide a space for women to connect again. We were created for in-person community.
Did you know that when women gather there are actual health benefits to this?
I was doing some research and I found that oxytocin levels spike in females after childbirth and when nursing. But those levels also rise at times of isolation and stress. When that hormone interacts with estrogen study, show it impels women to seek the company of others. Shelley Taylor, author of Attending Instinct and a social neuroscience at the University of California, Los Angeles, likens the interaction between oxytocin and estrogen levels to a social thermostat that keeps track of how well women’s social supports are going.
When the thermostat reads slow, females tend to reach out to each other. Then the oxytocin levels rise again. And with that prolonged exposure comes a distinctive, calming, warm effect, and they noted they don’t see the same thing happening in men.
Research has also shown that female friendships buffer the hardships of life transitions.
It lowers blood pressure, it boosts immunity, and it even promotes healing. Scientists suspect that female friendships may explain why women on average have lower rates of heart disease and longer life expectancies than men. There is even evidence that the broader network of friends and support that women tend to have might protect them from the effects of dementia. Click to view source.
We know that women benefit physically, psychologically, and emotionally from gathering together.
Why should your women’s ministry meet this summer?
1.Offering women’s ministry programming in the summer keeps your ministry momentum moving forward.
In a normal year after eight to nine months of regular events of Bible studies, offering absolutely nothing stalls the spiritual growth of your women. While we know our women should have a personal Bible study time, many of them do not, and they need that accountability and encouragement of being in a Bible study group.
Despite what we might want to believe summer Bible studies are actually hugely successful. I’ve been a part of several and the attendance every time has blown me away. One summer I attended a six-week study of the law and y’all, we had 40 people showing up for a daytime class. Another year we did a book study during the summer and the teachers who attend our church were so excited because their schedule finally allowed them to participate.
You’ll also find it’s much easier to launch new studies and activities in the fall if your women have been meeting regularly during those summer months.
Eliminating summer meetings for your women’s ministry team is not a good idea either. I’ve done it and we have suffered the consequences. If you take a break from your team meetings in the summer, you’re going to have to scramble to prepare if you’ve got a fall retreat or conference.
I’ve got a confession to make. Sometimes I get stuck in a rut praying the same prayers over and over for the women in my Bible study and on my women’s ministry team. If you do too, I’ve got good news! I’ve created a free prayer resource for leaders. The 21 Prayers for Women in Your Church or Small Group is a free three-week prayer guide. Each day focuses on a specific scripture and a request for your group’s spiritual growth, including unity, forgiveness, humility, and much more. You can download this free resource today at womensministrytoolbox.com/freebies.
2. Summer programming provides opportunities for connection, both within the church and in our community.
New women shouldn’t have to wait until the fall to get connected. And truthfully, if there’s nothing for women to get plugged into immediately, they’re either going to never plugin or they’re going to go somewhere else where they can plugin.
Think about the new girl who’s moved to town and knows no one and is starved for Christian fellowship. A summer event would be an answer to prayer for her.
Your women are also more likely to bring friends and neighbors to summer events, especially when you encourage them to do so.
Summer schedules are often more flexible and there’s no rush for mom to get home and school preparations aren’t necessary.
And summer events are often more casual and inviting to seekers, in comparison to a fall conference on prayer.
3. Summer events and activities provide opportunities for women to lead.
Summertime is a great time to let others take the lead on an event and that gives you a little bit of break that you’re needing. There doesn’t seem to be the pressure that comes with planning a big fall or spring event when you’re planning something for the summer. You can let them lead in your presence or you can let them lead in your absence – if it’s a leader that has shown that they are capable of leading on their own.
It’s also a great time to test out new ideas. Maybe you’ll want to run a beta group for the mentoring or discipleship program you want to launch in the fall so you can work out all the kinks and make any needed adjustments.
4. Summer attendance may be greater than you expect.
You have less competition on the church’s summer calendar.
This is one of the best-kept secrets about summer events. Go check your church calendar. You’re going to find it surprisingly bare.
Moms who might otherwise be shuttling kids to basketball, soccer or baseball practice might be able to attend in the summer months. (Now, if swim team is a big deal in your area, make sure you schedule around that.)
And teachers, as I mentioned earlier, who aren’t able to attend daytime Bible studies will jump at the chance to be part of your group for the summer months.
Slower summer schedules actually leave room for women to attend women’s ministry, events, and activities.
When we use the excuse that fewer people will be able to attend as a reason for canceling our summer women’s ministry calendar, those who are able to attend, they feel less valuable. Even if you do have smaller groups, those groups will often yield more personal discussions and more opportunities for sharing and connect. Your introverts may find smaller groups in the summer to be much more enjoyable than your bigger groups in the fall – if that’s even what happens.
5. Summer lends itself to fun.
In most areas, you’re able to meet outside. Plan a trip to the Lake, attend a concert in the park together as a group, or host an ice cream social. Summer food can be fun from smores to summer salads, to ice cream and frozen treats and root beer floats. Have fun with it!
And decorating for summer – that’s pretty easy. Get some flowers from the yard.
We need to stop giving our church members permission to dial back their participation in the summer.
Christian fellowship and growth are just as important in July as in September, but our ministry calendars don’t reflect that truth.
Your women always need Jesus. Every single month of the year.
Continue meeting regularly. Maybe you meet at different ways and things are a little lighter and more fun in the summer and a little less serious, that’s okay, especially this year when women desperately want to fellowship and gather.
Today’s Toolbox Task
Plan at least three women’s ministry events or activities for the summer.
I would love for you to reach out and let me know what they are. You can share them in our Facebook group or send me a message.
Thank you for listening to this episode of the Women’s Ministry Toolbox podcast. Leading in women’s ministry can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be! You’ll find support and ideas you can use in the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Community Facebook Group. We’d love for you to join us! Search for us on Facebook or visit womensministrytoolbox.com/groups to access the link. May the grace of God carry you through difficult ministry seasons, may He direct your steps as you seek to make Him known, and may your love for the LORD be apparent to every woman you serve.
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You may also want to read:
30 Summer Fellowship Ideas
105 Christian Ladies Night Out Ideas
How to Host a Summer Book Club
Summer Table Talk Cards
Summer Would You Rather Icebreaker Questions
Summer Icebreaker: Who here?
Women’s Ministry Summer Discipleship Solutions