With summertime fast approaching...we're getting ready for vacations, trips to the beach, family visits, BBQ's, pool parties, families moving, ice cream trucks, and the smell of freshly cut lawns.
Did I miss anything?
Oh ya...and our churches will be ghost towns soon!
I admit, "ghost town" might be a little dramatic...but the struggle is real. Depending on your church, you may experience a drop in your attendance from 20-25% during the summer months.
Most ministers dread the summertime slump. The ramifications go beyond a lower attendance. The summer typically brings higher energy costs to keep buildings cool, fewer volunteers to serve, less giving, and inconsistent small groups. This is all happening when you're trying to do a VBS too. Now that's awesome! [insert sarcasm here]
As church leaders...we're left with 2 options:
Let the slump steal your joy and cause you to stress-eat chips and salsa...
Put down the chips...take a deep breath...and jump the summertime slump! [Choose this option]
Here are 4 really great ways to help you enjoy the summer sun of ministry and avoid getting burned by the summertime slump.
As long as weather permits (and you have space), try moving some of your larger late afternoon/evening events to the outdoors. Capitalize on the warm weather and use it as an opportunity to literally go outside the walls of the church. Having community cookouts, a prayer meeting, or doing things like throwing a water party for the kids is a great way to avoid having to touch that thermostat and cost you money. This also helps change the pace of things to encourage your less active people to get involved instead of ditching church for the beach!
If you don't already have home Bible studies and small groups...try starting some during the summer. Not only does this save the church money with regards to energy costs...but it makes things a little less awkward with groups having that lower summertime attendance. Home gatherings are great opportunities for new friendships to form and deeper relationships to be made.
Summertime is a great time to find new volunteers and raise up leaders. Use the "summer semester" as a time to challenge people for just a couple months of service. People are more likely to help out when you tell them that they are only needed for a predetermined amount of time. This gives your regulars an opportunity to rest while letting your temps "take the car out for a spin". Who knows...your semester volunteers may like serving so much that they ask to be on the rotation for things like hospitality, children's ministry, and more!
Here's what happens to many giving families in the summer:
Jim takes his family on vacation to the mountains and misses a Sunday. Since he wasn't there Sunday, he didn't put any money in the offering plate (because Jim is NOT omnipotent?). When Jim and his family get back the following Saturday...they are exhausted and take the next Sunday off. The next time we see Jim...it's been 3 weeks!
Surely Jim will give that Sunday in abundance to cover the previous two Sundays he missed, right? ...right?!
That's wishful thinking. In a perfect world, Jim would do this. The reality is that Jim will most likely pick up where he left off in his giving...thus causing the church to miss out on 2 weeks worth of giving from one family.
Instead...you should give Jim the opportunity to give even when he's not in church. That way he doesn't forget. Learn more about online giving here.
What's better than a well put together sermon series? A CLIFFHANGER
Try writing sermons with good cliffhangers that leave a sense of wonder and "what if". This will cause your first-time guests and regular members to think twice about going to the beach next Sunday.
If your church posts each sermon online...make it very clear that the next week's sermon will be exclusive and not available online. If they want to know the rest of the story...they have to come to church.
Summer is different...so be different. Don't try to run your summertime ministry the same way you would run it any other time of the year. As the seasons change, we must change our approach.