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In May of 2018 our church plant was only 5 months old and we were staring down the dread of all pastors…summer. I have yet to meet a pastor that looks forward to summer. It’s difficult for so many reasons. Attendance is a weekly roller coaster. Giving slumps with summer travel. Everyone struggles to staff important Sunday volunteer roles. 5 months into a church plant this is what we were facing. Our team gathered and we made a wild move…

We decided to not have regular Sunday services for 9 weeks over the summer and instead do this…

We intentionally chose to rethink summer and transform our weekly gatherings into an experience called Summer for Greenville instead of fighting through a normal church plant summer. Yes, we had some kind of service each weekend. No, we did not meet at our normal location but instead switched up locations weekly. Yes, people asked us if we were insane. Yes, we were scared.

We learned quickly we had made the right choice to rethink summer. The 9 weeks of Summer For Greenville were fun, exciting, engaging, and outwardly focused in a way that our normal Sunday experience could never have been. We worked with the organization we rent from to negotiate a lower summer rent so we could hold our space for June and July but also free money for the different events we would work to pull off. We built out and promoted a summer schedule that included  2 serving Sundays, 2 block parties, a worship night, a Sunday brunch church gathering, several gatherings a local parks, and a sabbath Sunday! We took the funds we would have used for rent and poured it into our city and our spiritual family building community. Here is what we learned over 9 weeks of this experiment…

  1. People loved a flexible summer schedule. // They loved it. This removed the stress from people having summer schedules and feeling guilty about not being there each week with a young church plant.
  2. Our staff was focused on ministry rather than filling holes on Sunday. // We had a blast over the summer investing in our city and making these events happen. We were able to empower the available people each week instead of worrying about who was on vacation. We were only focused on who was there for the week and making things happen.
  3. Social media, intentional emails, and our website kept people in the loop. // This worked…we live in a digital age and we were able to keep people up to speed using technology.
  4. We were able to serve people not plugged into local churches! // This is a wild no brainer but when you do serve and community events on Sundays you can serve people not plugged into a local church in the community!
  5. We balanced serve days with community building days. // Over the summer we needed to stretch our spiritual family to serve with passion but we also had to create space to pour into them also. Balance of schedule was very important to make this work.
  6. We reached new people and people still gave! // It was so fun to reach some new families over the summer and also watch our people continue to give online. Most of our giving is online and people invested in the vision and mission of Summer for Greenville.

We relaunched our Sunday gatherings in August with a new series and we were all excited to be back. Summer was a win instead of a burden for our team. Thanks to the Greenville Community Church family for being willing to rethink church!