If you are a parish leader, you’re probably familiar with the summer slowdown. School is out, people are on vacation, and Mass attendance is down. It can be tempting to surrender to the quietness of the season and shelve our programming until the fall. However, if we do, we’re missing out on some great opportunities to engage the faithful and bring new people into our parish communities. Summer is just around the corner and there’s no time like the present to begin planning. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Many of these activities are simple summertime activities that anyone can attend. Use these activities as low-threshold pre-evangelization opportunities.
Organize a walking, hiking, biking, or running club
Organize a golf or tennis league, or a softball team for your local parks and recreation league.
Organize excursions: Tiger game, Cedar Point trip, water park, Detroit Zoo, etc.
Host a summer picnic or 4th of July Celebration.
Organize a Mom2Mom Sale.
Host an ice cream social.
Host a summer concert series.
Host a summer movie night under the stars.
Host a series of bingo nights and get creative! Make it a themed event or an intergenerational event. Add music for entertainment and serve food to encourage fellowship.
Host summer fitness classes.
Host an art fair or craft show.
Host a summer “field day” for kids of all ages.
Host a motorcycle or jeep blessing.
These events allow participants to have casual conversation about faith and life in a relaxing and hospitable atmosphere. These are great follow-up events after attending a social activity.
Host a bonfire with an inspirational speaker, Christian music, and prayer.
Host a coffeehouse speaker series. Add music and specialty drinks to make it extra special. Consider giving individuals a chance to share their testimony to inspire hope and strengthen faith.
Create a summer family prayer challenge.
Consider hosting these events for those who are curious about the faith, asking questions, or desiring to grow in knowledge of God and His Church.
Host a summer evangelization course such as Christlife, Alpha orYouth Alpha, The Search, The 99, etc., or organize a street evangelization opportunity with the help of St. Paul Street Evangelization.
Develop and host a summer discipleship series for young adults.
Host summer retreats for various age groups: middle school, high school, young adults, moms, etc.
Whether focusing on Scripture, Catholic doctrine or the teachings of the Church, the liturgy, or family life, these events help people deepen their faith.
Schedule Vacation Bible School in back-to-back weeks in your Family of Parishes, offering different programming each week, to “extend” the time kids can participate in VBS.
Invite teens to daily Mass and organize a breakfast with a priest.
Host a summer music camp to inspire, form, and train young musicians in liturgical music ministry.
Schedule a short, summer Scripture study (The Gospel of Mark in Four Weeks, Bible Basics, etc.).
Organize summer small groups around a video series (i.e., Formed.org, Ascension Press).
Host parenting classes or domestic Church workshops.
These opportunities allow your Family of Parishes to witness the faith to the larger community. They provide an opportunity to answer questions and invite people to more.
Organize a summer service opportunity (soup kitchen, urban clean-up, visit to a nursing center, etc.) for teens or young adults.
Host a summer car wash to raise money for a particular cause or group within your parish
Invite priests and/or deacons to do home visits of parishioners to bless their homes.
Set up a booth at a local community event (fair, craft show, etc.) with information about your Family of Parishes and ways to learn more about the Catholic faith.
Do an outdoor Mass in a public space outside of your parish grounds and invite the larger community to attend.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you brainstorm and plan summer events:
Be sure to collaborate within your Family of Parishes. Think about ways to schedule and rotate events at the various parish locations within your family. Utilize all the communication mediums available within your parishes to invite parishioners and the local community to your events.
When planning outdoor/sports activities, consider widening your volunteer base with individuals you may have interest or experience in these areas.
Engage your parish community in advertising; encourage your parishioners to invite friends and neighbors.
Consider doing a door-to-door campaign to let your local community know about the fun events happening in the neighborhood.
Practice radical hospitality. Be sure to identify newcomers in your registration process, and follow-up with each newcomer after the event. See the Hospitality Handbook for more details.
When hosting outdoor events on your parish grounds, consider opening the church up for individuals to light a candle and say a prayer. Be sure to have a sign-in sheet and/or handouts with ways these individuals can connect with your parish community.
Always be ready with an invitation to another event or to help individuals take the next step in their faith.
Summertime offers many opportunities to be missionary and outward-focused. This summer let’s unleash the Gospel in new and exciting ways to attract new people and grow the Church.
Have more Summer Fun ideas? Share them in the EGW Online Community!