In the summer many women’s ministry teams press pause on deeper Bible studies and offer summer book clubs in addition to or instead of weekly Bible study.
Summer book clubs offer an opportunity for women to:
- Gather with a different and maybe more diverse group of women
- Enjoy a recent book release
- Examine a book in relation to what the Bible says
- Have a lively, focused discussion on a topic that interests them
- Strengthen their facilitating skills
- Bless others with their gift of hospitality
There are a variety of different ways you could organize your summer book clubs.
Let’s walk through a few possibilities!
How many and how often?
The size of your church and the interest level of your women will determine the best answer for your situation.
Our church has about 1000 members. Book clubs are an annual summer event for our women’s ministry, and many of our women eagerly await the list of book titles. This summer we have the option of 8 different book club meetings on eight different books scattered over three months.
If you’re launching a summer book club for the first time, you may want to offer one meeting each month in June, July, and August. Some of your women may read more than one book, and others will read just one. The flexibility to choose is a great option!
Where will book club meetings be held?
Our church usually holds book club meetings in church member’s homes. However, we have also held some at our church. The best location is one that is cozy, welcoming, and allows for great conversation.
You may want to create a list of reminders for your hostesses such as putting up pets and tidying their bathroom. They may want to offer water and even a small snack, although that’s not necessary.
How long should book club last?
It can take a little bit for the discussion to get going especially if the women do not know each other well. Include time for a quick introduction and an icebreaker question related to the topic of the book to help break the ice.
One and a half to two hours is sufficient and allows women to return home promptly if needed. Our summer book clubs are always in the evening and start at 6:30 PM. Make certain you’ve given women time to eat and feed their family before heading out the door.
What types of books should you choose?
There’s no wrong answer as women’s interests vary widely. Recent Bible study books can be a great option. Non-fiction, biography, and fiction books can be good too!
Consider asking your women what books they recommend. Keep your eyes open for possible facilitators as the book recommendations are shared! Try to offer a variety of book genres.
Should you require registration?
If at all possible, yes! Registering for a book club meeting encourages commitment and may be just the thing that pushes a woman to finish the book or attend. Requiring sign-ups will allow you to add a group leader or second location if hosted in homes.
Be sure to let your hostess know how many chairs she needs to set up.
Do they have to finish the book?
While it would be great if everyone read the book from cover to cover, we need to extend grace and understanding. Pray for the women to complete their reading, but don’t admonish anyone who didn’t. They’ll still benefit from being a part of the discussion and the fellowship.
What do you discuss?
Some books may have discussion questions in the back or even a separate study guide. Either way, let the facilitator decide how to direct the conversation. Some facilitators like to walk through the book chapter by chapter. A quick Google search might yield questions for a book club too.
Always bring it back to Jesus and the Bible. How did the book reflect the Truths we read in scripture? How did the faith of the characters influence their actions? Did the author open your eyes to view a scripture or biblical truth in a new way? If so, how?
How do you select books?
You can offer a list of books from which to choose or ask your book club facilitators to submit their selection for approval.
Every book featured should be vetted and read completely from start to finish. Know who the author is and what they believe. Protect your women and do not expose new or less mature Christians to books that could lead them astray.
Every book should be in alignment with what the Bible says. The books you select should also be in line with the doctrine of your church. Your church may require that a staff member preview and approve each book. If you need to turn down a book be sure to share the reasoning behind that decision.
Take care to be mindful of books that could be triggers and appropriately caution your women if necessary. Share book descriptions with your women so they can make wise choices for themselves.
I asked the leaders in our free Women’s Ministry Toolbox Facebook Community for summer book club suggestions, and they had many!
Please note, I have not personally vetted the books on this list.
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Leader Summer Book Club Suggestions
Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron
Emma’s Journal by Ed Rowell
Giddy Up Eunice (because women need each other) by Sophie Hudson
Legacy of Mercy by Lynn Austin
Letters to the Church by Francis Chan
Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien
No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert
Seated with Christ: Living Freely in a Culture of Comparison by Heather Holleman
Seeking Allah Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi
The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers
The Beloved Daughter by Alana Terry
The Daniel Prayer by Ann Graham Lotz
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
The Jesus Saga by John Wright
The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers
The List by Buck Storm and Bill Perkins
The Miracle Man by Buck Storm
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
The Secret Blend by Stan Toler
Sensible Shoes Series by Sharon Garlough Brown
Unplanned by Abby Johnson
Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin
When Joy Came to Stay by Karen Kingsbury
Yada Yada Prayer Group Series by Neta Jackson
You may also want to check out these posts on books I have read and recommend.
Free of Me
Just Open the Door
How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird
It’s All Under Control
Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free
Made Like Martha
None Like Him
The Simplest Way to Change the World
The Turquoise Table
This I Know
You may also want to read:
Gather and Glean: Bible Study Selection
Tips and Tools for Bible Study and Small Group Facilitators
One year ago: 12 Ways Women’s Ministry Teams Can Warmly Welcome Guests
Two years ago: 8 Tips for Designing Your Ministry’s Logo
Three years ago: Book Review: None Like Him by Jen Wilkin
Four years ago: 30 Summer Fellowship Ideas
Five years ago: 6 Ways to Pray for Your Team
Six years ago: How to Select Your Verse & Women’s Ministry Theme for the Year