Summer Serve // A Chance to Get People Connected!

Churches across the country have discovered that summer is the perfect time for getting people plugged into the community through service. What could a Summer Serve Campaign look like in your church?

Keeping a church running on the same schedule 52 weeks a year is difficult to do. People’s lives ebb and flow throughout the year and we need to work with those changes rather than against them.

I first heard about Summer Serve as a way to give children’s ministry workers time off over the summer. The basic logic went like this: “Our kids ministry people serve for 9 months of the year for your children. We want to give them some time off. Can you jump in and help this summer in children’s ministry?” You can find all kinds of churches that use Summer Serve in this way. [Abundant Life Christian Fellowship] [Arvada Covenant Church] [City Church] [True North Church]

I’ve encouraged churches to go beyond children’s ministry and use Summer Serve as a way to get people plugged into a wide variety of service opportunities within the church. The basic “ask” is simple:

  • Get out of the stands and onto the field! Serving is more fun than passively consuming the church experience.
  • Sign up to join a team for one Sunday in the months of June, July and August.
  • No training is required! Sign up and show up! Our team will show you how to serve in your chosen area.

Although the obvious benefit of Summer Serve is filling in teams over the typically sparse summer months, if it’s executed well, it’s a huge opportunity to see new volunteers get plugged into the community for the fall. It’s really a jumpstart on fall volunteer planning!

Here are some overarching principles that will help Summer Serve go well at your church:

  • Make it Fun! Use surprise and delight to communicate about Summer Serve and to craft volunteer experiences.
  • Think Follow Up. Before you begin, work out exactly how you’re going to follow up with each participant. The goal is to help people get plugged into the community.
  • Keep the Ask Simple. Take the complexity out of what you ask people to do.  Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. If you give people too many options, they will opt out.
  • Build a Culture. Particularly if you are just starting Summer Serve, remember that you are attempting to build an expectation that everyone serves for one Sunday a month throughout the summer.
  • Change Your Ministry. You need to change up your ministry to make room for new volunteers. You’re probably going to need to ask some long-time volunteers to step into coaching roles for these Summer Serve volunteers.
  • Think Systems. If this works, you are going to have a significant influx of new volunteers into your ministry.  You are going to need a systematic approach to getting them plugged in and feeling happy!
  • Make it Fun! Did I mention this already? It’s summertime … people are looking for a good time! Let’s make volunteering fun!

Has your church provided a Summer Serve experience in the past? I’d love to hear about what you’ve learned over the years in providing this sort of experience! Leave a comment now.

Come back on Wednesday and we’ll look at how to ask people to join the team through Summer Serve . . . do people really give up time in the summer to join a team that they aren’t normally on?




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