As the daylight creeps longer and trees begin to blossom, I put away our boots and mittens for (hopefully) a few months and dig through the closet for sun hats and bug spray. Our sleds are stashed in the rafters of the garage, and our lawn is now littered with a plastic bat and baseballs.
The Gifts and Difficulties of Summer
For many, summer comes with some change of rhythm and routine, both personally and within the church:
- The school year ends
- Sunday school and youth group take a break
- Community groups and Bible studies often adjust or look different in their meetings
- Our daily schedules shift as daylight lasts longer
- People go on vacations
- We spend long weekends in the yard or at the beach
- Church enters into a long “ordinary” or “growing season”
Summer can be a mixed bag for me as someone who thrives on routine. I love the freedom but also long for intentionality. Vacation is simultaneously relaxing and exhausting. Sometimes I set out with the best of intentions for what summer can hold, only to find that time melts away as fast as my three-year-old’s popsicle.
Encouraging Intentional Formation through Bingo
As we moved toward summer last year, our church sought to challenge families as well as the whole community to be as intentional in thinking about faith formation as we are about our summer camps and vacation plans. We created a “Summer Faith Formation Bingo” board for our community. We used our taglines as the three categories, “Gospel,” “Community,” and “Mission,” and each category had three activity options for engaging that commitment, which created a 3×3 board. The options were designed with families in mind, but we wanted them to be accessible to those without children as well. By connecting the activities with the vision of our church, we also hoped to help church members imagine and discern how to embody each of these commitments as families.
We suggested things like:
- Gospel – As a household, choose 1 “fruit of the Spirit” you want to grow in this summer. Go head first into it – read books about it, make a list of ways to practice it, and point it out when you see it in each other!
- Community – Find someone in a different “life stage” than you and invite them to share a meal or meet up at the park!
- Mission – Look at the options for serving at (our local food shelter) and find one to fit your schedule.
We emailed the bingo boards to the congregation and printed copies for members to pick up at church. We then made a giant board that we hung on a wall outside of our sanctuary. This provided a visual reminder each week. It also offered a community building opportunity as people added their names to each activity they completed with the goal of getting a “BINGO” by the end of summer. To end our summer bingo, a quick trip to a used bookstore provided a few copies of Charlotte’s Web to lend out to individuals, and we shared popcorn and watched the movie one night as a community.
Embracing the Seasons of Faith Formation
Like much of life, faith formation is seasonal. There are times that the growth in us and our children is evident, and we feel the summer sun causing us to flourish. There are other times we trust that God is doing something under the cold, dark soil that will spring to life after the winter slowly fades away. As we continue through the many seasons of faith formation and seek to be intentional in what we do for each passing season, may you find great hope that “the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, Common English Bible).
Summer Formation Bingo Board
Access the bingo board as a PDF here
Editor’s Note: Please credit the author when you use this resource.
Featured image and image included in the article are by the author, Kelli Sieplinga Dunn