EP 191 – MAXIMIZE SUMMER MISSION
Well Bootcampers, summer is right around the corner and that means a lot of things. Shorts, BBQ, swimming and the summer slump in weekly attendance. Fear not loyal Bootcamp listener, the summer provides some great opportunities to connect with your community in creative ways while mobilizing your church to be more missional. The guys break down some of the ways from this original blog post on another site, you can find here.
- Pray for your neighbors by name (Of course, you’ll have to learn their names to do this).
- Take a morning or evening walk everyday at the same time. Pray. Wave and say hello if the opportunity allows. If you have a dog or kids take them with you.
- Invite neighbors or co-workers over for a cook-out or “porch-party.” Having people in your home can be intimidating. Move the party outside and enjoy.
- Have kids and have neighbors with kids? Water balloons and squirt guns go a long way.
- Neighbors who are shut-in, elderly, or alone may enjoy a visit from time to time. Just ask?
- Find neighbors interested in a block party or school kick-off and plan ahead for the fall.
- Live music in your city/neighborhood-gather and go.
- Popsicles in the Park. Bring popsicles for your little ones and extras to share.
- Look for opportunities to help. Notice the grass getting long or a trash bin still on the road or knocked over? Take the initiative and help out. People will realize you don’t just care about yourself.
- Listen. This missional principle is essential. Listen to your neighbors and co-workers. Listening shows you care, allows you to respond in a way that is thoughtful, and makes the world bigger and more beautiful.
Do you have some missional ideas or things your church as done to reach people during the summer? We’d love to hear about it, drop us a line, voicemail or comment and remember to subscribe and share your feedback on your favorite Podcasting Platform.
This summer would be a great time to address your church website and branding. Our awesome sponsor, One Eighty Digital has the know how and experience to get you heading in the right direction. Give them a shout, let them know you are a Bootcamper!
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are. Back at it again. Back at the Replant Bootcamp. Bob, I hope you’re ready for the next episode. Here we are, halfway through May. A little more weather is really starting to warm up down here in Florida, and maybe even a little bit out there in the, in the east, the western Midwest, east of St.
Bob Bickford: The Eastern Midwest.
JimBo Stewart: Eastern, Eastern, Midwest, whatever. Wherever it is you are.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. So, it is said that St. Louis is the western most east coast city, so that may be where you got tripped up of just
JimBo Stewart: That’s, that’s such a confusing statement. I don’t know
Bob Bickford: I know.
JimBo Stewart: mind will ever remember that correctly.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, it’s, it’s confusing even to me. I have to slow down when I say it. So, man, Jimbo, it’s a beautiful day. I was out actually earlier and I was, in the, uh, convertible and had the top down was, uh, playing some, uh, Casey, which is our rock station, and I think we had some eagles going and, and
some other stuff.
So, [00:01:00] Today was a, a beautiful day, and it’s in the high sixties and, I love it. And so Jimbo, that means that summers right around the corner.
JimBo Stewart: Right around the corner, man. And summer is such a unique time for churches, depending on how you approach it. Summer sometimes can be like a dramatic drop in attendance and
Bob Bickford: Mm-hmm.
JimBo Stewart: Or it’s a pretty good increase, or there’s VBS and there’s youth camps and there’s summer missions and all kinds of things that go on in the life of a church in the summer.
Bob Bickford: And most of the renewals churches or the churches that are revitalizing or replanting, here’s what I’ve seen, and especially during my years, you’re strong through Mother’s Day, and then after Mother’s Day, it’s like everybody disappears
until the week before school or the week after school,
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, it can be a
Bob Bickford: Yeah, so you’re running on like a summertime crew and, schedule’s just a little bit lighter, for you, perhaps in some [00:02:00] ways, maybe even some, for some of the families. So one of the things I, I thought we should talk about, and that’s why I recommended the topic, is how do we use our summer? To be missionally active and how do we help our church members be missionally active with us during the summer?
So before summer hits, maybe we could give some quick hits and some, some things to think about about how to maximize your summer for mission.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. You know, you talk about at the post Mother’s Day kind of slump, this episode’s scheduled to come out the Wednesday after Mother’s Day. So, so what we’ve just told you listener, is if Sunday was a really great attendance day, then. Sorry, that’s probably done for a few months.
Bob Bickford: And here’s a playbook. Run with it.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, this is, so jump in now and start thinking about what are you gonna do this summer? And, and I love the way you have approached this Bob, not just, Hey, what are you gonna do this summer to try to keep attendance at a certain point? but rather than focusing on how many people are showing up on Sunday morning, how are we sending, [00:03:00] how are we mobilizing our people?
How are we taking advantage of the summer and the differences that the summer brings? In order to mobilize the members of our church on Mission.
Bob Bickford: Absolutely. So I want us to think about this two ways, cuz I think it’s important. First of all. There’s the mission field right around the church, right? So your church to have kind of a church centric mess, missional, approach. And what I mean is that the geography, the address, the location, the people that are right immediately around your church because he, here’s what I know, Jimbo, it can be 50% or, or more, or 50% or less of your church attenders who live right around your church.
Right. And the day of driving and automobiles and, choice, you may be reaching people that drive, you know, 10 plus minutes to, to attend your church. And they don’t shop in the area, in the neighborhood where a church is, but your church still has a mission field right around it. so in some ways, think about it that [00:04:00] way.
And all those who live close to the church, rally them for mission-centric activities that occur right around the church. Then what I would also say, Jimbo, is how can you empower those who drive further in, from further away to be on mission in their neighborhoods? Right? you know, they’re driving in to do mission.
Well, let’s, let’s reverse that cuz remember in Matthew 28, what does it say? Go. Into all the world. All right, so you’ve already got them dispersed after Sunday, but equip them to do mission in their neighborhood. And so these suggestions that we’re going to to make here, here’s what I like about them. They don’t require committee approval or calendar space, they really don’t acqui, uh, require all that much money.
Like you can do this with, with just a limit to money. So what we would love, to see is some replants and revitalizations just kind of take some of these ideas and maybe even implement them. And then send us a picture. Like, put it [00:05:00] on our Facebook page, put it on Twitter. We would love to celebrate and highlight the work that you’re doing, uh, to the missional in your neighborhoods.
JimBo Stewart: Absolutely. No, that’d be really good. Uh, all right, let’s, let’s sum of these out. Let’s start with, the first one that you’ve got listed here. Pray for your neighbors by name. course, you’ll have to learn their names in order to
Bob Bickford: Yeah. There’s a couple things that you can do here and I think if you just, show up at the church or at your house and you can produce a very simple prayer
JimBo Stewart: Mm-hmm.
Bob Bickford: That says something like this, Hey, we’re so glad to be in your neighborhood. Our church is gonna be praying for the people of our area over the next few weeks.
Is there anything that we could pray for you about? Right? And give them that card. And you could do two things. One is you could put a stamp on the back of it. So that they could fill it out and drop it in the mailbox. You could put a QR code on it where they could scan it with their phone and then fill out, a prayer request.[00:06:00]
And then as those come in, Share those with your church family, right? Do some of those o on a Sunday morning as they come in. Say, Hey, we’re gonna pray for one of our neighbors. They indicated that they were, you know,
interested in this. Jimbo, if you have a sign, do you remember those signs where you change the letters all the time?
Where, where somebody has come up with a pithy saying, and then you gotta change. Or if the high school youth break in, they put, they like spell out bad words on the sign and you’ve gotta change that before Sunday. So I mean, Put it on your sign. If you’ve got letters or if you’re really one of those churches that, that has arrived and you have a digital sign, man, put it out there on your sign that, that your church is praying for the neighborhood and you’d like for people to share their prayer requests.
What this does is one, is it lets your neighbors know that you care about ’em, but it also motivates your church, to be active in knowing the needs of the neighbors right around either the church or in their neighborhood.
JimBo Stewart: I think one of the ways you could think about that is, if you were to draw like a tic-tac toe symbol, and, draw your, draw your house [00:07:00] in that middle circle, and then, if you don’t know the names of like, so what is in that tic-tac? So circle, if you’re the center who lives across the street from you, who lives behind you, who lives to the left, who lives to the right, and then who lives diagonal from those.
And maybe a goal for the summer is, is even just figuring out the names of those families. If you’re, if you’re not aware, and this is something that you can easily challenge your people to do, and at the very least, right, you get the names and you start praying for ’em and you, and that’s it. That’s as far as you go.
But certainly if you could go steps further, that’d be amazing. But for some people, that’s gonna be a pretty overwhelming task, just depending on how you’re wired with that. And, that might be one of those things that, that’s a really great way to think about how do we just even identify who our neighbors are?
How do we pray for them? How do we invest in that relationship? and not just put something on their door that says, Hey, you should come to my church. but how do we actually build, a relationship with them?
Bob Bickford: Absolutely. Here’s another idea. It’s important for us to get out and be active in [00:08:00] our neighborhood. So one of the things we’ve done, Jimbo, is we’ve adopted a couple of dogs, the pit bull wrecking crew. and we constantly walk those pit bulls, not because we necessarily. Decided that we just wanna walk a lot, but if we don’t walk the dogs, they get into mischief in our house.
Right? So it is, it is necessity. But one of the things that’s been great is we’ve learned the names and connected with a lot of people in our neighborhood just by walking. And everybody has a story about a dog. most people like dogs, right?
So, you get to know people. So what I would say is whether you have a dog or not, maybe you got some kids get a wagon, Get their bike, get their scooters, and just walk the neighborhood on a regular basis when it’s cool and talk to people.
Stop and get to know their names and that sort of thing. So get to know your neighbors and even, you might even have a, prayer card in your back pocket just to say, Hey, we’re praying for people in our neighborhood. our church is. I’d love to give this to you and, just know that you don’t have to indicate your name, but we’re just praying for needs in the neighborhood.
So Love to have the opportunity to pray for you, get to know them, uh, check in with [00:09:00] them. And I’ve got some really good friends now, from walking our dog for about a year now. Uh, we’ve had Daisy for about a year and then added Dax in December. And, I’ve got some really good friends that, that I have meaningful conversations with on a regular basis.
JimBo Stewart: I love that idea. I think part of that is, we no longer, for the most part in America, live in a society where people are okay with you knocking on their doors. and so just walking around, being outside, catching people outside is an opportunity to, to know people in a less. Uh, intrusive, invasive way in the culture that we live in right now.
Uh, the next one you have listed, I love this. If invite neighbors or coworkers over for a cookout or porch party, having people come in your home can be intimidating, kind of in that same vein. And so move the party outside. Enjoy, get, not just walk around, but see if you can’t get ’em just in the yard, on the porch hanging out.
Bob Bickford: Absolutely. Our, our neighborhood, is like that. Our city’s like that. And you’ve been to our city, so, you know, we’re kind of a, a front porch and sidewalk community where everybody’s out [00:10:00] walking and live. Music is a deal and backyard parties are a deal. And so, we have a, yard that is, wonderful for entertaining.
It’s got a fire pit. We’ve got cafe lights, and one of the things we have done on a regular basis is, is after the 4th of July parade, we’ll just invite our neighborhood over for a cookout and hangout. And, they come out and they hang out in the shade. They, we talk and we catch up, and that’s kind of our one.
Time of year really to connect with each other face-to-face. But we connect with each other o obviously, throughout the year. But you can leverage your, your home and uh, in your backyard. Now, here’s what I know. Most people, if you’ve never invited them to your home, most neighbors are nosy, and they want to come and see what your home’s all about.
Right? Especially if they can stay outside of it, right? So, so they’ll come over and, and check it out. But hospitality jimbos is one of the most underutilized ways of, being missional. But it’s also one of the easiest and most effective.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s, again, just as a pastor, uh, of a replant or a leader in a, in a replant or revitalization, just be thinking about what [00:11:00] are, what are the ways that work in your context to creatively point people, towards some easy. low commitment missional steps to get them move in the right direction.
Uh, another one you have on the list here, Bob, number four. Do you have kids? Do you have neighbors with kids? water balloons and squirt guns can go a long way. you know, we love that here in Florida when it’s 175 degrees outside. we love to get a slip and slide going. A pool.
We’ve got a pool in the backyard. we got a trampoline and you know, you get some water balloons, squirt guns going during the summer. Man, even the adults will jump in sometimes.
Bob Bickford: Absolutely. Absolutely. One things too, I would say is the next suggestion is don’t forget the older folks in your neighborhood. The shut ins and the elderly. there’s some folks who maybe their family’s gone away. maybe it’s just a couple of ’em. Maybe somebody’s recently lost a spouse. Like just be kind and gracious and include them.
Yep. Take cookies over, take, you know, a fruit basket. Maybe share some things from your garden, you know, those sorts of things. And then spend just a few times. [00:12:00] A few moments sitting with them on their porch or, or standing at the door and just having conversation. I think that, that one of the loneliest groups in, in our communities often is the senior adult who doesn’t have family or kids right around.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah.
Bob Bickford: and so they’re one of the most, important groups to reach out to,
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, our, our neighbor across the street is a senior adult lady that lives on her own. And, we’ve trained our kids now. I mean, if you are playing outside and you see her pull up with groceries, you know, you weren’t over there and you helped put the groceries. in the house and she walked with a walker.
And, you know, they’ve done that on such a regular basis now. And when her mower broke, we cut her grass for a while. And, so it was so sweet this east, you know, we lived here for a little over a year now and, this Easter she got all three of our kids Easter baskets.
and so just making those connections with senior adults is so important.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. The other thing I would say, Jimbo, this kind of goes to the the house thing. You could have a block party in your neighborhood. You could also have a block party at your church. What I’ve discovered is in my neighborhood, which is really affluent, people are more likely to go [00:13:00] to a neighborhood block party versus a church block party.
Right, because there’s a relational aspect and so don’t, don’t not leverage your church’s facilities and, and properties for a party, but also don’t overlook the fact that most people want to be, in their neighborhood. Right? And, it’s a lot easier to walk out the front door and down the street than to get in the car and drive across town to go to a black party at someone’s house, or to at the church. So I, think, don’t, overlook the church, but also. don’t underestimate parties in, in the neighborhood
JimBo Stewart: I would add to that that is, is not even on this list but would help you with all of these is you know, there’s an app called Next Door. that is kind of like a social media app for your community, for your neighborhood. that’s a great way to, let people know that you’re doing a block party, connect with those sorts of things.
See, sometimes people will post needs that they have, in their neighborhood there. that’s just a great way to, to tie into all these things that you’re doing.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. the other thing too is I would say is, [00:14:00] there’s all kinds of live music that, happens in areas, particularly in our city. And so invite friends that you know that are in the community to meet you at one of those venues enjoy some live music together. Specifically if you have friends that are.
maybe on the fence where it comes to church or things of God or that sort of thing. And then invite some of your other friends who attend the church with you and introduce them. And then just, especially Jimbo, if you’re trying to teach people how to have a missional conversation that, that are really kind of unsure about how to do that.
man, go, go visit a a, a live music. Concert. We, we have a, a cafe that does live music every weekend during the summer. We’ve got a gazebo series, we’ve got a blues festival. And, man, it’s just a great time to, to get out and do that. here’s another one that is, kind of fun, is a popsicles in the park party,
right? You know, it’s everybody. Like I don’t think I really know anybody who dislikes a Popsicle Jimbo. I mean, there are probably some out there, but during the [00:15:00] evening, particularly if you have a park that adjoins a baseball practice field, man, grab the giant church cooler. Fill it with ice, dry ice and then go get a bunch of popsicles.
You could get those plastic, you know, kind that are, you just cut the top off and then you push it up rather than the stick kind. Or you can do both right? But just do a popsicles in the park party and get a jambox out there, having have good music and, and hole and some, you know, games and just have some, just a fun pop-up party.
cuz everybody likes a fun pop-up party I think.
JimBo Stewart: Oh, absolutely. One of the things we would do, oftentimes in summer here in Florida, there are several public pools or, apartment pools, that are shared. And, take our kids and we’ll take, a big Gatorade cooler full of like lemonade or something like that. And just set out a free sign of, Hey, free lemonade.
And kids are out playing in the heat and they didn’t bring anything to drink with them. And, and so they’re excited to get some free lemonade. Ends up making a mess. And so if you do that, you know, [00:16:00] pick up the trash, don’t. Be the guy that brought all the trash to the public pool and, and leave it trash.
Uh, and so it’s a commitment to, to have that. But it’s also a commitment to make sure that you, you know, clean up after yourself whenever you go. But it is great, it’s a really good opportunity to get to know people, talk to ’em, cuz they’re gonna go, Hey, why would you do that? And,
Bob Bickford: Mm-hmm.
JimBo Stewart: it gives you a good opportunity just to talk to him and see what, where that conversation goes.
Bob Bickford: Mm-hmm. Here’s one, one that’s kind of a, for the non extroverted type missional. Folk who are out there who want to do something good for the community, but also are, are just hesitant to interact with people. If you see something in your community that needs addressed, like a particular area like a median or A place that is kind of along a road that is like trashy or is unkempt or something like that, man, get a few folks, and just go tackle that. Like clean up the trash, cut the grass, you know, kind of trim some things back and just serve that, [00:17:00] serve by doing that sort of thing in a very practical way.
Often what I’ve found is, is when you do stuff like that, people will actually roll down their windows and go, man, thank you so much. are you at the city? Are you like, no. We’re with, such and such church, and we’re just out here serving the community. And that will stick in people’s minds and they’ll go, wow, how about that?
That’s, that’s something that they’re not just about their thing, they’re building their property, but they’re out here to, to add value to the community. And so if you’re super introverted and, you’re more service oriented, uh, man, serve the community. Make it a beautiful place in the name, uh, of Christ, and, and go for that.
JimBo Stewart: That’s also a really good way, even if you’re not introverted, to mobilize some of your members that probably are. I, I know in our community, we have a lot of good old boy guys that would cut any grass, cut a tree, build anything, repair anything. they’re not gonna have a conversation with a neighbor with a stranger though, not naturally.
But if you say, Hey, we’re gonna go, and we would do this periodically, we had, I don’t, I don’t know [00:18:00] why the Lord did this. Maybe it was for this missional opportunity, but like, Lord gave us a lot of guys at our church that cut grass. and so we, we would take those guys, say, Hey, how many of you guys could take this Saturday and let’s just go find some yards in the neighborhood with high grass and just, I’ll do all the talking.
don’t worry about that. I’ll do all the talking. And I would go with them. I would go, I would go knock on the door, be like, Hey, here was the redemption church. See that’s, uh, been a while since you’ve been able to cut the grass. We’ve got a whole crew here. We would love to do that for you.
and then usually I would end up talking to that person half the time they were cutting grass. a way to get them involved and taking a step in the missional direction. And, really it’s a way for us to disciple our members. Into being missionally minded and we’re not gonna get them, you know, all the way there in, in step one.
And so you gotta figure out what are the baby steps I can get them to take? And I think that’s a really, great suggestion that you’ve got.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. Here’s the last one. listen. Listen. Now, how do you listen to your [00:19:00]community? This can be a little bit challenging, but here’s some suggestions. Jimbo. One is, if your community has a paper, a. A Facebook page, social media presence where people interact. If, you know, there’s kind of a neighbor’s page, that sort of thing, man, read that as a missionary, right?
Not as a conservative evangelical that’s gonna get frustrated by the stupid content that’s in the paper. But because Jimbo, here’s a newsflash for the listening audience and for all of the Baptist world. Lost people. Act like lost people
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, absolutely.
Bob Bickford: last time I checked. Right? So expecting non-Christian people to live by Christian ethics and doctrine, you are setting yourself up for a world of frustration.
So just don’t expect that, but [00:20:00] take the view that Christ did when he saw the masses. That he saw them as harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd, and his heart was breaking for them,
right? So with the eyes of Christ, listen to your community and hear what they’re talking about and hear what their needs are, and then see if there’s some way that you as an individual or a church can engage with the community.
and be a blessing. Now here’s, here’s one surprising way that over the years, the Lord allowed me, has allowed me to be a blessing to my community. my community is very, very liberal, very, very affluent. And so all of the ideologies that can run contrary to Christianity are present in my culture.
I mean, they’re just, It’s, my culture’s rife with that, right? And so oftentimes I’ve just said, Barb, we just need to move outta here and go live on a commune and raise goats and flowers, right? Like, this is just [00:21:00] driving me insane. And, uh, even sometimes I’ll text you some of the crazy headlines and stuff that I, that go on.
And so, here’s what the Lord has allowed me to do. I, I know some of the city council folks, I know the mayor, um, I know some of the leaders in the community. And when there’s an issue that’s got people upset, there have been sometimes Jimbo that the Lord has allowed me to enter in and be a peacemaker and to be a voice of, hope and help in an otherwise very divided and divisive situation.
And, I would’ve never imagined that that would be part of being a blessing or being missional inside of the community.
Right. And so, taking the position. To be a peacemaker means that I oftentimes don’t say fully everything that I believe and don’t share all of my convictions, but I listen and ask questions, and I see if there’s common ground that we can establish for the good of the city and for the good of the community.
And so what I would say is, is pastor you and [00:22:00] your people, Try to figure out how to do that. Right. And Jeremiah 29 talks us about, the children who are next, the children of Israel who are in exile. The Lord sent a message to them like, live in the city and work for its good, and raise families and try to prosper and, and be about blessing the city.
And I think that Jimbo, the, the Christian missional impulse for us, Used to be. I’ve gotta tell people where they’re wrong and what to believe and that their centers in need of salvation. And there’s, there’s nothing wrong with that, and that’s completely true, but somehow we’ve gotta un uh, discover and uncover that the missional impulse. For us in the present culture is if we can be listeners and be blessings, and if we can model what it means to to have a vibrant relationship with God and love people. I think we’ll see people warm to the gospel. We are still gonna have to communicate the message that people are spar from God because of their sin [00:23:00] and in need of salvation, but it certainly gives us the platform to do it when we take the listening and loving approach.
JimBo Stewart: Absolutely. I think it’s so wonderful. Uh, and just the way that you’ve listed this out I think is very helpful. Bob and I would only add one other thing. I think we’ve talked about this some before. Sometimes as re planters, we forget that we can learn from church planters and develop partnerships.
And, summers are a really good time for developing partnerships, for getting mission teams to come down to and partner with them.
To partner with other churches to do things is a really great thing as you see needs in your city, uh, to not just do that, just your church or just for your church. What are two or three other churches in your community that could partner together on doing some of these things together? Um, so I think it’s great as we think through this, not to focus on, hey, how do we make sure we can keep attendance up over the summer?
but how do we, how do we increase missional engagement over the summer?
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