EP 192 – Ministry Maxims pt 1 of 3
Hey bootcampers! In this episode, we’re talking about shifting our mindset from focusing on the wrong scorecard to focusing on missional engagement during the summer. We know it can be discouraging to feel like you’re not measuring up, but we’re here to encourage you to focus on what’s really important.
We also introduce a topic for future episodes that expands this mindset beyond just the summer and shifts our thinking about scorecards and how we approach ministry, especially with minimal resources and people. We know this is common among the majority of our listening audience, so we want to provide helpful insights for you all.
Did you know that the average size of churches in the Southern Baptist Convention is around 70 people? That’s right, we’re all in this together! And despite the challenges of the pandemic, there has been a recent rise in worship attendance, baptisms, and giving. We know many pastors are experiencing pandemic fatigue and trying to evaluate how to lead differently in the current circumstances, so we’re here to offer some practical advice.
We discuss the impact of the pandemic on pastors and the decline in pastoral satisfaction. But fear not, we introduce a talk by Bob Bickford called Ministry Maxims and scorecards, which focuses on leadership principles that can be applied in any setting regardless of church size or resources. We encourage pastors to use the slower pace of summer to make shifts in their leadership style that will have a lasting impact on the upcoming season of ministry.
We also talk about the importance of discerning and adapting to the current situation instead of doubling down or diving deep into discouragement. We suggest creating a stop doing list and delegating tasks that do not align with your calling or mission. And we provide three ways to develop discernment: immersing oneself in God’s word, reflecting on the ways of men, the world, and the church, and exercising good decision-making by dialoguing with key leaders.
Lastly, we discuss the challenges of leading paradigmatic change in a church and how it’s important to shift the culture towards a biblical mission and vision driven by the Word of God. We know it can be a difficult process, but by asking questions and evaluating the mission behind what you’re doing, you can make sure that your ministry is effective and in line with God’s will.
Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll catch you next time!
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are, back at the bootcamp. Back at it again. Bob, I hope you’re ready for the next episode. Deep into the heat of summer, and enjoying a little time here in the Great Sunshine State.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I’ll be heading your way soon, Jimbo. gonna be vacationing at Seaside, Florida with some of our friends. That is, told where the Truman Show was filmed.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah.
Bob Bickford: I actually. In preparation for vacation and Seaside last year, I watched the tournament show.
JimBo Stewart: You know, when Trip and I were in Charlotte doing our disc golf, dude road trip, we watched a different movie each night. And one of those was the Truman Show because it’s one of my favorite movies ever. I love the Truman Show, so I, I would be interested to see if you, if, if I’m sure there’s gotta be some fun Truman show.
Touristy, picture opportunities that I expect. Text messages with great picks from you.
Bob Bickford: So you’re gonna be disappointed because I can watch a movie and [00:01:00] do you have a, you have friends that can just really quote lots of movie lines and all that kind of stuff. Jimbo my quotation ability from movies that I’ve seen is pretty limited, right? Like, so I can do maybe the first of Star Wars movie that came out when I was, you know, really little.
12, seven or eight I can do The Sandlot, which is probably remains one of my favorite movies. Baseball movie I love. the line after Squince, pallor tricks, Wendy peppercorn into giving him mouth to mouth so he can kiss her. And, the narrator says he kissed a woman. He kissed her long and he kissed her.
Good. I love that one. There’s so many great, great lines from, uh, the sandlot that, that I know. other than that, all I know is that Truman was shot in Seaside, and, that’s about all I can tell you.
JimBo Stewart: Well, if you, if you haven’t across anything, I’d love to. I’d love to see, see anything as you come across it. Hey, speaking of summer, last week’s episode, we talked about, as you’re jumping into summer and you kind of [00:02:00] have. Usually that means less people, less money. And if we’re focused on the wrong scorecard, that becomes, incredibly discouraging and frustrating.
And we start to, you know, really get depressed in the summer. But if you can switch your scorecard a little bit. And, I think last week’s episode was great where we talked about focusing on missional engagement. How do you mobilize your people in missional engagement during the summer? Take advantage of some of the unique aspects of summer.
so as we’re doing that, you know, Bob, you’ve got a talk that you’ve been doing lately that I think it’d be great for us to do a couple episodes. two to three episodes on, that really what takes that mindset and expands beyond just the summer and, really shifts our thinking about scorecards and our thinking about, how we approach ministry, especially with minimal resources and people, which, I’m just gonna venture.
The large majority of our listening audience has minimal, resources in people. Because of just the, the content that we discuss. And, but even if you don’t have minimal, you know, you have a larger than average, [00:03:00] which by the way is what, like over 150? 200 is, is over, over, over a hundred is, is larger than average, right?
Bob Bickford: Yeah. Yeah, I think the average size of the s BBC church was like, I wanna say 66 or something like that,
JimBo Stewart: Yeah.
Bob Bickford: I can pull up the stat here in just a second, but, but you’d be absolutely surprised. And, you’re a hundred percent right, like the. Majority of us don’t have a lot of resources that we can just throw at a need in the church, that sort of thing.
you know, it’s an issue. So I was wrong on that. Jimbo, the average size of a church in the SBC life is 91. This is according to ACP data.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. But it’s like, 80% are below a hundred though, right?
Bob Bickford: Yeah, yeah, Yeah.
yeah, yeah. Um, 79.1% are 99 or less.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. So, uh, you know, right at, right at 79, right at 80% are less than a hundred. So if you’re over a hundred, just know, you’re not a small church. You are larger than your average church. and if you are struggling at 65, 75, 80,[00:04:00] You’re right there in the norm. You know, 56, like that’s, that’s a normal normative size church.
And so as you’re thinking about that, you know, and there’s been a lot of interesting media and articles and social media debates, uh, because we love to do that. About the state of the Southern Baptist Convention in particular. I know not all of our audience is Southern Baptist, but that’s our tribe and so we obviously have a little more knowledge there and, it’s been a great point of discussion in the world out there today of what is the state of how are churches in Southern Baptist Convention doing Bob.
Bob Bickford: Well, you know, I’m encouraged because the recent, ACP analysis, we’ve seen a rise in, worship attendance. In baptisms and in giving, and this was coming out of, COVID, right? So I think what we’re seeing is we’re actually seeing some, some growth from a low, and then I would also say this, we did an analysis on the percentage of churches that are, or the either in decline plateau are growing when Jimbo, from, from the last [00:05:00] 10 years, we’re actually seeing fewer churches are in decline and.
More churches are growing and so we’re, we’re excited about that. so I think there’s some good signs that are, they’re pointing, to some healthy things. But by and large, what we also see Jimbo, is that there are a lot of pastors, I think, that are, coming to the end of their pandemic fatigue. And they’re really trying to evaluate, do I stick this out?
And if I stick this out, how do I lead now? Right? Because I can’t lead in the same way.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I, you know, we’re beyond the point where we can continue to blame Covid for everything. Yes, we’ve, we’ve been beyond that moment. but what you can still accredit to the season of the pandemic, is just how tired a lot of pastors are right now, because they kind of fought through and, and pushed through and gritted their teeth and, you know, white knuckled maybe through that season and are now on the other side trying to rebuild.
and legitimately that was a disruptive moment in our culture in the sense that we no longer live in the same. Culture that we did before Covid. And so we find [00:06:00] ourselves in a new missional context, with, new challenges and, things to approach. And so, the wellbeing of pastors has to come into factor in this conversation as well.
Bob Bickford: You’re, you’re a hundred percent right. And you know, Barna Reese, released a study and a lot of those stats were coming out. And so what we’ve seen is, is we’ve seen most pastors in 2015 there, a majority of them, 72% said they were really satisfied with their job. in 2015. Now, the latest resource that Barner showed us is that in 2022, only 52% said that they were satisfied.
So we’re, what we’re seeing is, is pastoral satisfaction, is, is declining and the number of factors in that Jimbo. But I think one of the things that we want to talk about is if you are in a, a church that has weathered, the challenging aspects of, Covid in the last couple years. You’re tired. you’re facing the cultural headwinds of an approaching political season and all of the cultural changes, like how, how do you leave now in, in a way that’s going to help your church in light of your [00:07:00] context and your resources?
So I, I’ve developed a talk. Called Ministry Maxims and scorecards. And I think what we’re gonna focus on is the ministry maxims these are leadership things that you can do in any setting regardless of size of church, context of church and resources of church. And I think these are things that would be helpful for us to talk about in terms of, Of, pastoral leadership and what I would say, getting back to, kind of the stuff we talked about in the initial intro.
Summer’s a great time to work on things in the church because the pace is a little bit slower usually in some ways. you do have some people out, and then what you don’t wanna find yourself doing is trying to ramp up for the fall, like a week before school starts, right? So, So take the summer season, and think about some shifts that you can make in your leadership style and approach to things that will have lasting impact for the, for the whole next season of ministry.
JimBo Stewart: No, I think that’s great. as we think through this, knowing how, how to focus and, accomplish what we can with what we’ve got and not try to overshoot and not try to be something we’re [00:08:00] not. but how do we. Focus on what it is that is most important. So let’s hit it off with the, the first.
Bob Bickford: The first maxim is discerning and adapting. Versus doubling down or diving deep into discouragement. So one of the things that’s important for us as leaders, Jimbo, is I think we can, uh, find ourselves in a situation where, Where we just, we’re just gonna get it done. And so we kind of double down, right?
Or we, what we’re doing isn’t working and we’re not sure what to do, and we’re exhausted and we can’t figure it out. So we just kind of dive deep into, into dive deep into discouragement. So I think what, what we really need to, to come to is a place where we step back from a situation, from the context of our church, and we discern what’s going on, what are the really important things.
What, what are the things I need to be giving my time to? Where, where am I exhausted or what am I exhausting myself with and is it actually helping us fulfill our mission? And so I need to discern those things. And one of the things we’ve talked about historically here is [00:09:00] every pastor needs a stop doing list.
Like if you did one thing this summer and you started a list of things that you need to stop doing and maybe delegate, right? And we’re not talking about major pastoral responsibilities cuz there’s some things that we just don’t want to do, right? Cause we don’t like ’em. But they’re under our leadership.
Umbrella, but what is it that, that the Lord has called you to do? And then adapt towards that. Like what, what are the, the most strategic and significant things that you can do to help your church in this next season of ministry that lean into your gifts, lean into your expertise that also em empower and mobilize people to, to do things that you’ll stop doing.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, I think the episode we did a couple weeks ago on discerning the difference between important and urgent could be helpful as you’re doing that. and even, you know, I was, I was talking with a discouraged pastor recently who’s just overwhelmed and there’s a lot going on, and he’s in that moment, and, and I just said, I said, Hey, listen, here’s, here’s the thing.
you gotta take one day at a time. And you know, when you’re, when you’re really deep in discouragement, you gotta take one day at a time and you gotta figure out what is it that [00:10:00]God has called me to do? What are, what are the, what are the things I know I am responsible for that I need to do well? and do those.
And if you don’t have the people, the time, the money, the resources, the capacity to do something else, then don’t.
and it’s gonna be okay. you, we don’t have to overcomplicate everything We need to be thinking ahead. One of those things is we do need to be thinking ahead what, what’s happening in the fall?
but. as, as we’re getting ready for that. But I love that discerning, discerning what’s really, what really matters right now. What is it? What is the most important things for me to be putting my energy into and my effort and thought into, what can I delegate? How can I develop others and to take some things so that I’m just doing the things I know I’m supposed to do and adapting instead of just doubling down.
And, when we double down and just continue to do the things we’ve always done. it never is gonna play out as well as we hope. And it’s, it’s not, we’re not gonna get back to the way that it was effective before. Because every day we walk out of our door into a new ministry context [00:11:00] and culture, it, it’s constantly ever changing, which means we have to be ready to constantly ever change in the way that we approach those things.
Not in, not in what we’re about, and what we’re called to, but in how we do that.
Bob Bickford: Mm-hmm. There are three things I think that help us develop discernment. First of all is just immerse yourself in God’s word, right? Getting God’s word. And let scripture wash over your mind, and your thinking, and your emotions, and your perspective. next I would say, if you could reflect on the ways of men, the world and the culture.
And the church. just think through, how are all these things playing together? Like think through people’s schedules, people’s levels of commitment, what’s happening around you in your church context, and then exercise, good decision making by dialoguing about these things as a group, get your, get your key group of leaders together, whether it’s elders or deacons or ministry heads.
Get them together and then just think through. Because, because we, it’s easy for us to say, okay, develop discernment. Well, there’s some ways that you. Develop discernment. So those are just some real simple practical ways.[00:12:00]
JimBo Stewart: All right, so let’s, uh, let’s move to the next ministry maxim that you have listed is leading paradigmatic change versus reinvigorating old programs kind of connected, to the one we just discussed.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, so I, when I first went to our replant here, there was a, a committee or group, a team that was called the church Council. Have you ever heard of a church council?
JimBo Stewart: I have, I, I’ve not experienced one personally. well, I have in churches I’ve been helping, but not in the ones that I’ve led.
Bob Bickford: So in, in most churches, what a church council is, is it’s a group of all of the ministry leaders that meet to discuss the calendar events that are scheduled for the church. And so here’s how our church council went. what did we do last year? And then someone would say, well, we did this thing and then we’ve got this event coming up.
Okay, well, what do we need to do to make that happen again? Right. There was [00:13:00] no, uh, there was no discussion on was it effective? Did people show up? Did it accomplish its ministry purpose? Did it have a ministry purpose? Right? one of the things that, that I realized was we’re gonna have to have paradigmatic change.
We have to change paradigms, the way we think about things, the way we approach ministry in, instead of just. Doing the same old thing and maybe doing it better. Right? So when I came into that context as a, as a replant pastor, they were hoping that I would, just make everything that they’d already done better, real, rather than asking the question of what do we really need to be doing?
Right? I think some, some places they were like, yeah, we need to do new things, but here’s what we’ve got to do. This is coming up. There was really no thought about, let’s. Let’s really ask, is that the right thing to do? Jimbo, there was this thing that we did, at our church called Christmas Around the World, and here’s what Christmas around the world was.
It was a Sunday evening gathering and we invited different people, group churches. So we had the Arabic church, the Chinese Gospel [00:14:00] church, Hispanic church, and we would invite them to come and each group would sing a song, with their choir, or two songs with their choir. someone would give a devotion.
And then we would hold hands around the sanctuary and sing Silent Night each in our own language. And then we would walk downstairs and we would, everybody would bring the food from their ethnic people group. So you’d have Arabic food, Chinese food, and then if you didn’t, We didn’t have an Hispanic congregation, so we had some of our own church members that like made a, you know, old El Paso Mexican food. And so as a chef, you would’ve hated that one, but you might have enjoyed the others. but right before we did this, and this is, so, I came to the church in November and I remember that one of the oldest, members, joy, and she was 92, she was an old lady that was named Joy, but she didn’t appear to have any joy.
JimBo Stewart: It wasn’t a prophetic naming like in the
Bob Bickford: No, no, it was not the old [00:15:00] Testa cation. She’s a sweet lady. but she just said, well, it’s time. Do Christmas on the world, and, I’m old and I’m tired and it’s my year to do it, but I ain’t doing it. Somebody else is gonna have to do it. So So I just said, well, I just started asking those newcomer questions.
Why do we do this? What’s the purpose behind it, et cetera, et cetera. So we ended up doing it that year and it was okay. It wasn’t great. but then the following year we began asking more questions about what we do. And so that’s leading paradigmatic change, you know, replant or you, if you’re new to spot, you probably don’t want to kill Christmas around the world, because you don’t wanna be like, Jimbo blamed that he hates Christmas or hates wmu or whatever, you know?
Um, But you at least need to begin asking questions cuz here’s the difference between a leader and a manager. A leader asks questions about why you’re doing something to make sure that it’s in keeping with the mission. A manager just tries to improve what you’re doing and doesn’t evaluate the mission.
JimBo Stewart: Mm. Yeah, I mean, what you’re talking about is changing culture. I mean, that paradigmatic [00:16:00] shift, that’s hard, man. It’s, you know, we’ve all heard the saying culture, each strategy for breakfast and the idea there is, Whatever your strategies are, if you’ve not changed the culture, then they’re gonna get swallowed up.
And, another way to say that, I guess is strategy. Your strategies, especially if new will always lose to the culture
it comes to when they come to a battle. And so, You know, I, one of the things you said in the last one is immerse yourself in God’s word. I’m convinced part of the way you have to do paradigmatic change and change the culture of a church is through the word, and one, I think you have to paradigmatically shift the church.
To truly see the word as their authority. and you have to lead with the word as authority. and if you can accomplish those two things and you’re truly leading in a biblical mission and vision driven by the word, and you’ve led the congregation to truly see God’s word as our authority, then you can lead through the word [00:17:00] paradigmatic change.
but. It’s hard, man. There’s a lot of questions you gotta ask. There’s a lot of, sacred callous, you gotta starve to death or kill somehow. And, it, this, this is one of the hardest pieces of leading change is impacting the culture.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, it is, it’s really hard. you know, there are three things I, I love Todd Bullinger’s book. canoeing the Mountains. He talks about how do you change culture? He suggests a couple things. One is you gotta understand the existing culture, right? Really understand it. Why do we do this? How did this start? Who, who is this important to? You know, what was the mission behind this?
Because sometimes you can redeem something if you can recover the mission,
right? So that’s important to do. And then he says, you gotta gain trust and demo. Demonstrate credibility. So you gotta preach good sermons. You gotta visit people, you gotta love ’em. You gotta build relationship so that they’ll, Trust you as you seek to change culture. And then here’s something I love this Bolsinger says, you gotta birth something new together. The summer’s a perfect time to do that. what if you got with some of your leaders and said, what if we tried something new together, [00:18:00] to, help our body connect with the community?
Right? going back to the last episode, what if we. What if we just did popsicles in the park, right? And let’s, let’s do this. Let’s just try this and see what happens. I think those things are super helpful. but you’re, you’re exactly right. I think if you, if you’re trying to change culture, you’re gonna be exhausted because you, as you’re changing culture, you’re still doing all the same things you’ve probably already done right before you can let go of them.
You have to change the culture of the folks to hang on with the death grip. To the things that they do, and you’ve gotta change the culture of putting your trust in programs or things like that in order to trust God, pursue God, and and discern what he might have for you in the future.
JimBo Stewart: I love your suggestion of, of. Birthing something new that is, for a season, this temporary even. I think it’s, you know, when you come in and you just go, Hey, from now on to the end of eternity, this is how we’re doing this. you know, that’s never gonna be received well. but if you can say, Hey, Hey, just try this with me for, you [00:19:00] know, for four weeks, for six weeks, for three weeks, whatever.
one se one semester, one quarter of the year. Usually people are usually, not always, usually people are, amenable to, to try something for a small season and just see how it goes. so pick something that you’re pretty sure is gonna win. and this is, you know, I wouldn’t start with something super risky.
If you’re just starting to change the culture, you can increase your amount of risk as you go, as people, uh, start, start to buy into your leadership capital and take, you know, that, gain trust and demonstrate credibility. That’s that leadership capital we talked about, a few weeks back. And, and so continue to build, build that, do something temporary, something seasonal, understanding what you’ve got, and, and try something new together for a season.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, let’s wrap up with this one. the shifts that I think you have to, to make is you have to empower and equip your body for ministry rather than exhaust yourself doing ministry. And, and so, you know, one of the constant themes that [00:20:00] you bring in as Ephesians for about equipping people for the work of ministry so that the body becomes mature.
I think what happens during a season of great change, And cult a great season of trying to change the culture and maybe deconstructing is we can deconstruct some things that were good in that someone else or a structure or a group of people was Was leading out in that area, and when you deconstruct it, it’s gonna roll back on probably the pastor, right?
And so, in some cases, as you’re trying to form something new and you deconstruct something, you’ll find some gaps. You’ll find, oh my gosh, we just took out a support leg for ministry that I didn’t realize we just took out. And then what happens in that moment is, somebody’s gotta do it. And so typically what happens, uh, what I’ve seen happen in the summer season, Or in a, in a season of great change, the pastor, ends up doing it or falls back on a key leader because sometimes Jimbo, the, the people who have been freed from a structure of ministry that, that hasn’t had an [00:21:00] expiration date on it and it was already expired.
JimBo Stewart: Hmm.
Bob Bickford: set ’em free, bro, they’re out. Like they are free. and then you realize, oh my gosh, we, somebody’s gotta make the bulletins right. Somebody’s gotta do this. And, and we ran into this recently in our church, our custodian, long-term custodian. this should say the church I’m attending now, I’m part part of, and a member, member at our longtime custodian was the one that always switched the, the boiler, from wintertime to summertime, turn on the ac and he had a significant medical, medical issue was gone and nobody knew how to do it.
And here we are, in, into warm weather here in the late spring. And man, Jimbo, it’s hot, right? And, and so we had a situation where there was nobody else cuz the structure. That had been present to have a properties committee had been changed before our, our current pastor was there because there was a merger and so they just did away with every committee and leadership team.
And so they didn’t realize, oh my gosh, there, there’s a deficit here, so now we’re scrambling. In a good way, Jimbo. And I think too, using [00:22:00] the, the crisis of that need to put in structure that’s gonna be healthy for the long term, that it’s not gonna fall back on the pastor.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, I think that’s so huge. I mean, you can’t have anything so dependent on you, and we’ve talked about the, you know, end of the liver line kind of mentality that you end up with as a, as a pastor and everything ends up falling to you. But, if you just burn yourself out because you feel like all these programs have to happen, you’re not serving the church well, that, that’s not serving you well.
Your family well, or the church well, and that’s where, you know, the beginning of this episode, I think we said sometimes when you just don’t have the people, you don’t have the money, you just don’t do it. you know, I think when it comes to air conditioning, Bob, you should probably get somebody that can turn the air conditioner on.
Uh, That one’s, that one’s necessary. You gotta figure that one out. You, you, yeah. You outsource that. You figure out somebody that can do that. But you, but to the point, like you don’t want to find yourself in that spot where only one guy knows how to do that. Right.
And, uh, Not just even with [00:23:00] logistical things like, you know, maintenance, but even the, the ministries that you do.
Right? I, I met a pastor one time that, you know, when he showed up on Sunday morning, he, did the announcements. He led the music, he did the sermon, he did the. Children’s moment. He led Sunday school. He, you know, was the first one there to open the doors and turn on the lights and he is the last one to leave to lock the door.
and it was like, man, what? This is not church. this is, I don’t know what this is, but this is not the biblical body of Christ being the body of Christ. And, and so that may, if to take this approach likely means you’ll initially be doing less stuff. And that’s not entirely a bad thing. now not everyone’s gonna believe that’s not a bad thing, but it’s not entirely a bad thing.
At our church, we, when we had some exits, some key exits, it severely put us at a disadvantage for children’s ministry. So I met with our remaining children’s ministry volunteers and I just said, [00:24:00] listen, here’s the deal. Burnout is not an option. We’re not, nobody’s burning out, we’re not gonna do it.
how many Sundays can we realistically provide what we think is good children’s ministry services without burning anybody out?
Bob Bickford: Mm-hmm.
JimBo Stewart: answer, Bob, was once a month.
Bob Bickford: Wow.
JimBo Stewart: So you know how often we did children’s ministry?
Bob Bickford: Once a month.
JimBo Stewart: Once a month, until we could do it twice a month. And, for us, we actually found we loved that rhythm of every other week. The kids were in service with us and we found ways to incorporate them in and have some great times with them.
but we had to work our way back to twice a month. And the deal was, We’re just not gonna burn anybody else out. We’d honestly, we’d already burned out too many children’s ministry leaders and, and we just said, well, this is not a pattern we can continue. that’s a, that feels like a easy thing to talk about on a podcast, but that’s a hard thing to lead in your church.
Bob Bickford: it is absolutely most difficult to, and then I think the other thing that I would say, is there are things [00:25:00] that pastor, you probably need to let fall to the ground in order to expose two things. One that you, you can live without it. As a church, and then two, somebody within the body has to step up and do it.
You can’t. Right. In addition to all the other things you’re doing, and sometimes the strategic drop, or deficit is, is does more in terms of helping shape and shift culture than you saying something about it. Right. and so you can’t do that with everything because you, you start losing credibility, right?
And, and, you know, it hinders the body, but if there’s a strategic drop that can take place, the well-placed, use of a strategic drop can be a really good leadership moment for, for the church. And so just consider that if that’s something you can do to help shift the culture.
JimBo Stewart: All right. This has been excellent, Bob. I think, let’s come back next week and d dive into, a few more of these because I think this is really gonna be helpful for guys as they are navigating the summer and planning for the fall.