This is the month of Julius Caesar’s assassination, the seventh month of the year, the first month of the new financial year and the middle month of winter. Despite its coldness and darkness July has become an especially significant month.

‘Dry July’, is a campaign to have people give up alcohol for the month and instead donate the money saved to a Foundation to support people affected by cancer. ‘Kind July’, encourages us to do something kind each day, a national movement springing out of the tragic death of Thomas Kelly who was killed in an unprovoked attack in July, 2012. People have been calling Talk Back radio to say how their sense of wellness has been improved by participating in both initiatives.

July usually has two weeks of school holidays and the first two weeks of Term 3 at School.

If you are not a skier, July generally is a quiet month, a good month for sitting around the fire and for sleeping. Have you thought about making it a highlight of the Church year?

Some churches I know of have taken the slow holiday month of January and made it a highlight. Multiple services are closed and combine to meet at one time, together on a Sunday. But a featured series is taken, maybe with a special preacher and the slow month has become an anticipated feature at the church.

Why not do the same with July? One church I know of has Winterfest with three Sundays of guest services and in between a variety of evangelistic meetings for all age groups. Here are some of the ideas:

Sermons on Jesus and – fear; our yearnings; our friendships; our ambitions;

Or, Jesus and your past; Jesus and your present; Jesus and your future.

Or, a series on The big Four of Christianity: Grace; Repentance;  Faith; Justification.

Or, a series on the Cross – the symbol of love; the place of sacrifice; the place where new life is demonstrated; the key to the heart of God.

Then follow this series with an evangelistic course in August. Have a family dinner night and ask a brave family to demonstrate family devotions and have resources available to help parents in this vital ministry.

Take a week of the School holidays for a Kids’ Club and a weekend for a Teenagers’ weekend with a difference. If this stretches the resources why not link with other like-minded churches in the area? In C. John Miller’s excellent book, which needs to be republished, ‘ Evangelism and your Church’, he makes the claim that all meaningful evangelism springs from hospitality: ‘Biblical hospitality has escaped the pretensions of social entertaining … it provides the occasion in which the hosts may share themselves as they are, in the simplicity of their dependence on Christ and in the profusion of love and gifts they have received from Him’.

As such, the church becomes the community of outreach. Encourage church members to invite the neighbours in, some churches clump families together for street pasta nights or curries and then time together around the fire pit.

Meaningful outreach to the community must not fall off the agenda. It’s a cold, dark month, let’s make it a month to be anticipated and for some, a month in which the light of the gospel enters their life.

If not in person in this covid month, perhaps via Zoom, or an idea for next year.

David Cook.