by Joel Southerland
Summer is here and this year it has arrived with a vengance. In the past 7 days I have started my car and seen the dash temperature gauge read 106 and 103….and it’s not a dry heat!
Ask the average person in the pew to describe summer and you’ll hear words like: hot, fun, vacation, family time, beach, mountains, parks, baseball, trips, outdoors, pool, lake, swimming, camping, sunny, relaxing, lazy, lemonade, etc.
Now ask the average pastor and here are some words that will come up: low attendance, depleted offerings, slump, depressing, scary, too long, empty pews, etc.
Notice the difference?
While every church probably experiences a downturn in the summer the hard part can be pulling out of the summer slump once it is over. It doesn’t just happen automatically. If you aren’t careful your church can get into some lackadaisical habits in the summertime that carry over for months. The last thing a church needs is to have the Summer slump turn into the Fall slump!
Here are a few ways to help pull your church survive the summer slump.
1. State the obvious
I always liked to send out an email at the beginning of summer and acknowledge the elephant in the room. I knew many were going to take 1 or 2 vacations in the next 2 months. That’s fine. Enjoy the time off – this is a busy hectic world we live in. However, I always warned against a couple of things. First, do not spend your tithe money at the beach. The tithe is the Lord’s even in the summertime. Second, do not get in a bad attendance pattern because of the summer. Miss the Sundays you are travelling but do not miss any more. When in town, be at church. That simple recognition and admination seemed to help tremendously. Once I had a church member call me on a Sunday morning and tell me they had given their tithes online from vacation and wanted me to know they didn’t spend it on something else. Wow!
2. Plan for a big Sunday back
The first Sunday after school starts is a really important Sunday. Make it a big one. You might want to bring in an evangelist. You might want to introduce a new song. You might want to start a new sermon series. Do something that says, “Summer is over and we are cranking it back up big time!”
3. Work in a high attendance day soon
You might not want to do it the first Sunday but sometime in August or September have a high attendance day. It doesn’t have to be on the grand scale of what you might have done in the Spring but have a day that focuses the church on doing the business of the church again. Inviting. Witnessing. Ministry. Contacting. The benefit of a big Sunday is that it gets everyone doing what they ought to have been doing but they quit doing during the Summer!
Those are a few of my thoughts. Share your ideas below: