The dreaded ‘summer slump.’ It happens every year, and every church leader knows exactly what those words mean: a drop in attendance, decreased participation, and reduced giving. Your church gains great momentum coming out of Easter – lives are changed and your attendance is at an all-time high – but then Memorial Day weekend creeps up.
All of a sudden, your attendance plummets. Weekly giving is down. Congregants aren’t as connected to your mission, ministry or even to one another as they were just weeks ago.
The summer slump has begun.
For many churches, this ‘slump’ will last through Labor Day weekend, wherein church leaders then find it challenging to regain the momentum their church was enjoying just months prior. But logically, at least, it makes sense that all numbers decrease over the summer.
After all, families go on vacation and have reunions. They want to take advantage of the bounty that the warm weather brings. Kids are out of school and families want to maximize their time together unencumbered by the (over-)scheduling of the rest of the year.
And according to Lifeway, when compared to highest attendance months, average Sunday morning attendance drops by 23 percent in June and 34 percent in July.
This can be disheartening to a church leader when faced with the annual prospect of having to make progress toward the vision with fewer people and less money every summer.
With these challenging circumstances, what can churches do to keep their congregations focused on Christ and community?
Undoubtedly, people will be pulled away from your church over the summer. Youth sports and traveling tournaments, for example, almost always include Sunday morning events. To combat circumstances like these, churches just have to be willing to get a little creative.
If you’re tired of struggling through the summer slump, here are five articles you may have missed that might inspire you to approach summer with a new attitude:
“Many churches may be feeling all too familiar with the ‘summer giving slump,’ the time of year when people vacation and giving often goes down as a result. What can you do to reverse the trend in your church?
“You can pray about it and hope for the best, or you can pray about it and develop a plan to overcome it. If you’re interested in the second approach, here are some practical ideas for cultivating more consistent generosity during the ‘dog days.’”
“The next three months are going to be some of the busiest, and possibly most expensive, months of the year for your church. With all the camps, mission trips, and community outreach events, summer is a season with incredible potential for significant ministry impact. However, for executive pastors and church business administrators, it can also be one of the most taxing.
“The summer giving cycle stresses out thousands of church leaders across the country, but it doesn’t have to be that way.”
“Many church leadership teams may be growing uneasy knowing that, along with the beautiful weather and days off of school, many families go MIA due to vacations, family reunions, and traveling sports teams. All these fun summer events are great except they keep families out of the loop for weeks at a time. If those families don’t plan ahead to give, it can have adverse effects on your church budget.
“One of the primary reasons giving dips during the summer is because people don’t feel as connected to what’s going on since they aren’t regularly present for the weekend experience. A great way to overcome this obstacle is to bring the personality and voice of the pastor to them through video email.”
“It’s the end of July. That means that the impact of summer is in full swing. For many churches, that means a dip in attendance and most times, giving. Or what we refer to as the summer-giving slump.
“The good news is that your church doesn’t have to wait until September to recover from the dip in giving. All it takes is a proactive mentality and willingness to try new things to encourage members to keep giving – even if they’re not at church or they’ve never given before.”
“Who doesn't love summertime? It's one of the most relaxing times of the year. Unfortunately, it also causes stress for many church leaders. Many executive pastors and financial administrators are already feeling the stress that comes with the decrease in giving the busy summer months bring. As a church elder, we talked about this every year and tried to come up with creative ways to address it. Nothing helped, so we just planned around it, saving money in the good months to help us weather the ‘drought’ in summer. It’s not a bad idea, but is there something else you can do? My time here at Church Community Builder has surfaced a very powerful answer!”
If you’re tired of dealing with summer slumps – and really, who isn’t? – consider implementing any one of these ideas this summer to see how it impacts your church’s bottom line.
As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure so any one (or more) of these approaches could help to serve you and your church well during the dog days of summer.