In the coming weeks, school is out, relaxing is in, and vacation is on everyone’s mind. As the school year programming winds down, the rhythm will change at your vibrant parish. The hustle and bustle of spring sacraments has peacefully subsided. Youth and children’s ministry have a few major events, but weekly sessions are at a standstill. Staff takes vacations, and the parish office might close early on Fridays. With summer right around the corner, how can your parish make the most of it?
- Plan Ahead for the Year
Set aside time to look at the entire year. If your parish closes its fiscal year in June, this is likely something you’re already doing from a budgeting perspective. Planning is more than budgetary, however. Look ahead at major feasts and liturgical seasons, as well as recurring events that happen each year, like the parish festival or major fundraisers. If other staff members are responsible for major events, examining the calendar together can help you avoid overloading certain events in the same time frame.
Beyond a calendar meeting, summer can be a great time to examine engagement and stewardship strategies for the coming year. Assess how last year’s programs went to determine what’s working and what you’d like to change for the coming year.
- Revisit the To-Do List Leftovers
Throughout the year, everyone’s to-do list has tasks that get pushed off week after week. Summer is a great time for tackling these less urgent but still important items. Research options for a new copier. Read the latest ministry book that everyone’s talking about. Freshen the paint in the old convent. Look ahead to next year’s conferences for professional development opportunities. Develop a new social media skill. And finally clear out all those emails!
- Support Your Faith Formation Staff
Though most of the parish may be on autopilot, your faith formation staff has a few crazy weeks. Mission trips, Vacation Bible School, camps, conferences — all of these require advance planning, chaperones, and last-minute permission forms. For summer’s major events, make sure your faith formation staff has the support they need to thrive. Whether you’re a parish employee, volunteer, or engaged member, asking, “How can I help?” might be the answer to their prayer!
- Make the Most of Engagement Opportunities
Summer is often a time when church programs settle down. Consider a fun, low-key community or outreach activity to engage parishioners and visitors alike. Church attendance can dip during the summer months due to vacations and travel. Parishioners might not always pick up the bulletin. Remember to post updates on your church website and send out notification alerts through your parish app!
- Movie Night: Does your parish own a projector and screen? Host a family movie night in your church basement, parish center, or in the backyard! Pick a values-driven film to inspire faith-filled conversation. The movie night can easily be turned into a fundraiser with concessions for purchase, or a donation drive for a local food pantry or thrift store.
- Family Beach Day: Is your parish near a large body of water, like a river, lake, or ocean? Plan a family beach day. Beyond a chance for parishioners to connect, make it an opportunity for growth! Bring a pop-up tent and set up a table with cold refreshments. Have your hospitality or evangelization teams man the tent, offering free beverages and conversation to anyone who passes by.
- Outreach at the Farmer’s Market: If your area has a rotating farmer’s market, or offers the chance to book a stall for a limited time, set up a simple stand for your parish. Offer a fun kid’s activity to draw people in, like free face painting. Connect passersby to your mission by offering a donation opportunity or a raffle with a spiritually minded prize. Have bulletins and flyers on hand to help people find you on Sunday!
If you’re still in the middle of spring sacraments and summer registrations, the upcoming lull may still be far from your mind. Take some time to look ahead with your mission in mind. Following these tips means a smart summer for your vibrant parish!