Summer is almost here and that means lower attendance and decreased giving is looming for many churches. Most preachers aren’t too wild about summer (unless they’re on vacation!). School is out, vacations are planned, and there is a general feeling among some parishioners that it’s acceptable to ease up on their commitment to the church. Can we do anything about it or should we accept it as “church as usual”?
Don’t settle for a lazy summer church! Here are six things you can do to keep giving and attendance strong during the summer:
Address It Head On
At the beginning of every summer I always tell my congregation, “Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean the bills stop coming. While you may take a vacation, the work of the church does not.” Simply be honest with your congregation and let them know that their absence doesn’t mean the absence of the church’s financial and spiritual commitment to ministry. Encourage them to take their offering envelopes with them on vacation or sign up for your online giving option (if you have one) and give online while they are away.
Do a “Flat Pastor” Campaign
In one church I served I asked people take a picture of me with them on vacation and take photos with it along their journey. They posted them on social media and we featured the pictures in worship. We received some hilarious pictures and the church loved it. While it is a simple and fun project that helps develop relationships in the church, it also has another benefit: it keeps church on the minds of those who are taking a vacation, which increases the chances they will keep giving and attending during the summer.
Don’t Get Lazy in the Pulpit
Many preachers make the mistake of coasting in the pulpit during the summer. They recycle old messages or do a lighter sermon series that is about as edifying as a Reader’s Digest article. They save their best sermon ideas and topics for the fall when everyone returns. While I believe in having a compelling series for the fall, why should we expect people to feel motivated to come to worship if they get the impression that the preacher is not serving fresh bread and that good preaching has also taken a summer vacation? Don’t get the reputation as a lazy summer preacher. Stay faithful and feed your flock.
Don’t Forget About Summer Visitors
The summer season can bring unexpected visitors to your church. Many people’s work schedules ease up in the summer and they find more time for church and family. Don’t let their first impression be a church going at half steam. You may miss a great opportunity. Be sure your church is running on all cylinders and that you are giving your best in the pulpit.
Remind Them to Worship Online
Tell your congregation to tune in to your live stream worship services or watch sermon videos online while they are on vacation. If you post your services on social media encourage vacationers to post comments and share their vacation experiences. This is a fun way for them to stay connected to the church.
Give Them an Assignment
Invite some of your summer vacationers to write a devotional based on their trip and post it on your church’s Facebook page, website and bulletin. Suggest they visit other churches while they are away and ask them to bring back a bulletin. Ask the children to draw pictures of their vacations and share them with you. If the church is on their minds while they are away they are more likely to give while they are gone and jump back into church when they return.