By Jan Cagno
Summer is a time for outdoor living – for picnics and hiking and swimming and boating. It’s a time for backyard barbecues, for family reunions and for camping expeditions. Summer offers special opportunities for families to enjoy each other as they vacation together for a week or two or spend long Saturdays or entire weekends exploring the delights of some heretofore unknown corner of the map. Summer, with its increased hours of daylight and its warm, sunny days, affords a unique setting for all sorts of experiences that are not possible during the cold, dreary days of winter or even the changeable, uncertain climate of spring and fall.
Family living is being discussed these days by ever increasing numbers of psychiatrists, psychologists, educators and church leaders. Much is being said about the advantages of secure family relationships and of the importance of harmonious family living to the psychological well being of children and youth. There is no better time than the summer months to engage in activities that bring the family together, or to experiment with new ways of showing our loved ones that we are interested in building special relationships with them.
Summer also brings the Sunday school an increased opportunity for outreach. While family living is important and necessary to the well being of future healthy adults, the church has something even more vital to offer. Children have long summer days to fill. Freed from the pressure of school and its activities, time sometimes hangs heavy on their hands. They are looking for something to fill those hours and to present an opportunity to get together with other children in an experience that will catch their interest and perhaps fire their imagination, as well as produce an answer to their spiritual needs. Children and young people are looking for ways to be useful and to be of service to others.
Most Sunday schools recognize the importance of the Vacation Bible School program as a part of their summer outreach ministry, and many have expanded that program to encompass a far greater outreach than the traditional five or ten days of programming. Backyard Bible Clubs as a prelude to, or a follow up for, VBS brings the ministry of Sunday school into the child’s neighborhood. Three out of four children are not involved in any church ministry. Recent findings by one specialist in a Head Start Training program reports that one in every four children in the United States “will be involved in sexual abuse before the age of 12.” Broken homes, child abuse, drugs, and immorality confront today’s child. The solution to all of this tragedy is in God’s Word. Only salvation can cure a sin-sick world, and we who are the workers in the Sunday school must share the Good News that there is an answer with our children and young people, as well as adults of all ages.
Summer is a perfect time to plan Sunday school picnics, biking expeditions, hikes, family wiener roasts, and other activities that include fun and fellowship, and climax with an opportunity to share the Good News of the Gospel. Reach out to increase your ministry to those who are not involved in any Sunday school and encourage your co-workers to set similar goals. Then just watch how God will bless your special summer ministry.