When church members are present, the church thrives and stays on track. When church members are elsewhere on Sunday mornings, the body is affected. “Summer attendance” are two words that every pastor across the nation thinks and prays about. Labor Day may be around the not-too-distant corner, but summer activities, camps, mission trips, and vacations are still prevalent in the lives of your congregants. Your church is also feeling absent. So we’ve compiled three strategies to avoid the summer church attendance slump and remain connected.
The blueprint for engagement starts with communication. If you want to create a lasting and integrated community in your church, you have to establish ways for your people to get to know each other and to share stories, prayer requests, and needs wherever they are. Creating an engaging community in your church to avoid the summer slump demands good communication. So, it stands to reason that when your people are doing life outside the walls of your church, there’s an additional need for online communities and groups. To get the word out about all that is happening at your church, to provide a way for people in your community to interact, and increase the overall effectiveness of both your communication and community this summer and beyond, you’ll need to:
- Target communication to particular people, groups, or audiences
- Get out messages to your entire church– church app, text, email, campaigns, etc.
- Provide reminders and notifications to people based on their involvement
- Allow members to communicate in a safe online environment
- Post announcements and update
Relationships are the building blocks for creating a healthy, vibrant church. Give your people a fresh opportunity to invite their friends by pushing a special event or new initiative. One of our top summer slump strategies to increase engagement is to organize a “second half of summer” community-wide volunteer opportunity around what some would consider a “non-religious” issue that everyone can get behind. Then, your people – who have already vacationed and are home and looking for activities – will have additional reasons to be involved in the life of the church! Pull your planning team together and get the ideas flowing, then land on whatever you can execute with excellence. The key here is finding something that will make it easy for people in your church to invite their friends and those outside your church to say, “yes.” Ideas might include:
- Clean up at your local park with an ice cream truck scheduled to celebrate at the end of the project
- Help the elderly with yard work and sprucing up their curb appeal
- Revitalize a city block or section of road and meet back at the church for an outdoor picnic lunch
- Food and clothing drives for collection and distribution
- Back-to-school backpack and supplies collection to serve as the “entrance fee” or ticket to an outdoor family movie night on the church premises
3. Social Media
How to avoid summer slump involvement includes using technology to bridge the gap. Most of your congregation has a smartphone and scrolls through any number of social platforms daily. Be present there and creatively provide value:
- Think through each platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) and assign someone on staff to monitor and respond to the platform promptly.
- Determine how you can point people to your church and summer activities- ads, stories, clickable links, create interactive questionnaires, etc.
- Provide value to those who can only engage on social media and how they can be involved:
- cross-promote activities on their social media to boost awareness
- attend live stream services
- Make more meaningful posts than requests- content matters.
- Let your youth group or a missionary family “take over” your social media for a day and highlight different summer activities or “a day in the life of” to increase engagement and overall interest in the church’s life.
People have a desire to be connected to the life of the church. This means your responsibility is to get them consistently involved in fellowship, events, groups, and serving. Using these three strategies to get people plugged in (and avoid the summer slump in church attendance) will ensure they’re ready to commit to going on the journey and increase the chance that they will stay connected to the church no matter the season.
As Vice President of Sales and Business Development, Thomas is responsible for ACST’s overall sales production through multiple sales channels. Born and raised in Florence, S.C., Thomas has over 20 years of experience in sales and marketing leadership. He holds a degree in business and is currently pursuing an Organizational Leadership degree. He loves seeing people move outside of their comfort zone and exceed their goals. In addition to his work at ACS Technologies, he volunteers with several organizations, including a local ministry here in Florence.