Summertime State of Mind
It’s summertime, and in the church world, this means that everything seems to both speed up and slow down at the same time. Children and students are out of school, and that means ministries related to those demographics ramp up. Summer camps and Vacation Bible Schools—and all the fundraisers and decoration hours necessary to pull them off—will keep a segment of your church busy, including your staff. And like every other season, Sunday keeps coming.
However, summertime is also full of family vacations and sports seasons. These widespread activities with no discernible order mean that some ministries will slow down, if not halt altogether for a few months. Attendance is lower. And in some situations—hopefully, yours!—margin increases.
The 4 P’s of Preparation
One way to use those extra hours is to rest. Every planter, pastor, and church leader needs to take time to recharge their batteries from season to season. Summertime is great for that. This added margin is great for reconnection, as well. During busy seasons of ministry, the families and friends of church leaders may take a back seat. Summertime is an incredible opportunity to bring those relationships to a front burner and give them some needed attention. Yet there’s still another important part of a leader’s life that summertime affords us beyond rest and reconnection: preparation.
This summer is a great time to prepare for the fall and the huge ministry season that this time of year can be. So, I’d like to suggest four areas to give attention to this summer as you look forward to the fall.
Yes, pray for the upcoming fall season. Ask the Lord to give you and your team strategy, energy, insight, and fresh ideas for how to best obey His command to be disciples and make disciples. However, also plan what you’re going to lead your church to pray for during the fall.
In Acts 6:4, the leaders of the early church determined to devote themselves to the prayer and ministry of the Word. Yet the definite article “the” is before both prayer and ministry of the Word. This means that there was a structure, a plan, and a purpose for these prayers. Without planning for prayer, we will pray without purpose. So, grab a white board or take out a notebook, and begin to map out your prayer strategy for the fall; you won’t regret it.
In my experience, the fall is the business time of the ministry year. Not only are our normal, on-going ministries in full swing, but details for the next fiscal and calendar year are already needing to be discussed. The budget needs to be tackled. Partnerships need to be examined and considered. Ministry plans for the next year need initial steps to be taken. Even missional opportunities need to be strategized, too.
All of this—and more!—requires processes that you and others in the church must walk through in order to address it all. So, if you don’t start thinking about the planning process now while it’s still summer, these responsibilities will sneak up on you, leading you to have to make decisions under the gun come fall.
Summertime often allows you the time, space, and mental energy to take a step back and evaluate the preaching calendar. If you’re like me, then you like to have a good idea of where you’re going for the entire next year. However, the summer can serve as a second “New Year” reset. Consider asking questions like: Where have you been the past half-year? What texts have you taught? Which doctrines have you honed in on?
This evaluation, if done prayerfully, allows you to do the necessary tweaking and shifting if the Lord is doing something other than what you thought He might. Issues in your church pop up. Situations in the world arise. Culture shifts and begins to make some pretty loud statements. Any of these occurrences means that you might need to pivot in order to preach the Word “in season” like the Scriptures command (2 Timothy 4:2).
Everyone loves watching a superstar play basketball. However, a problem arises when the superstar plays for many years but doesn’t win any rings. Why? Some say it’s because the superstar didn’t have a strong enough supporting cast. Yet how much does that supporting cast matter if the superstar won’t pass the ball?
One of the main roles of a pastor and planter is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12). Far too often, though, because of the tyranny of the urgent, leaders are tempted to do most of the ministry themselves, only bringing others along when it’s absolutely necessary. This rhythm just isn’t sustainable, especially if you desire to see your church flourish and grow. The summertime then is a great time to ask, “Who should I be passing the ball to?” So, ask yourself these questions: Who is in your leadership pipeline? Do you even have one? What would it look like to start one?
Preparedness is a Process
Pastors and planters, I don’t want you to waste your summer. Yes, I hope you rest and reconnect. I hope you can keep all the ministry plates spinning, too. However, my prayer is that you will take time over this special season to prepare for the fall: to pray, plan, preach, and pass.
And as you do, I pray you come out of the summer excited and energized for all God has for you, this fall and beyond.
Published July 19, 2023