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Engaging Your Church Community During Summer Vacations

We’ve all been there. You prepared all week to develop just the right Sunday School lesson or Sunday sermon. You can’t wait to see how God will use what you’ve worked so hard to prepare. 

Then Sunday comes—and the pews are noticeably emptier than usual.

It’s summer vacation time. 

Summer vacations are an essential part of the season between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Our congregations need the rest, relaxation, and family bonding time that should accompany summer vacations. 

But churches pay a price. Lower summer engagement means deflated attendance, lower giving, and less ministry.

Is that inevitable? Not so fast. 

 Summer vacations not only don’t have to be an engagement sucker at your church. With a little creativity, your church can use them to grow momentum right into the fall. 

In this blog post, you’ll find six ideas to help you engage your congregants in ministry while they’re on vacation.

Encourage  Engagement in Online Worship

In one sense, it’s never been easier to stay connected with a church community, even when your family is hundreds of miles away. We found out just how important it is to use technology when we’re apart a few years ago when churches had to stop gathering during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But hopefully, you didn’t put everything you learned during the pandemic on the shelf when you began meeting in person.

The most basic digital connection point your church can offer for vacationers is a live-stream and on-demand recording of your worship service. This allows people to view—and even take part! — in your church’s regularly scheduled worship services. YouTube, Facebook, and several church-specific solutions make this incredibly easy for churches today. 

So let’s assume you’re already there (if you’re not, that’s your first assignment). Just streaming your service is just part of the solution for helping people participate. You want to encourage your vacationing members to interact as well. These four ideas can get you started.

  • Use live chat features. Most online video services have live chat solutions within them. Make sure you mention those options as you kick off the online service. You’ll also want someone to moderate the chat so they can answer questions and discourage trolls.
  • Acknowledge those watching online. Let your online viewers know you see them! As your pastor says hello to the congregation, say hello to those joining the service online as well. Even if you have an online pastor or leader provide an introduction before the service begins, it’s best to have the pastor acknowledge the online attendees as well.
  • Make accessibility a priority. Ensuring that anyone who wants to watch your service can do so is a key way you show you care these days. That means everything from using clear, large fonts and high-contrast color schemes for the visually impaired to providing transcripts for those with auditory issues. Accessibility is also about availability. That means your service should also be viewable on as many devices as possible.
  • Occasionally, provide interactive elements. You don’t need to overdo this, but at times, include polls or quizzes in your sermons. Use your church’s mobile app or mobile-responsive website to allow congregants to respond from wherever they are.

Connect through Social Media

We all know how big social media has become in the lives of the people we lead. Though there are many negative consequences of social media’s impact, it’s important that the church leverages some of its strengths to help connect when members leave for vacations. 

One way to do that is through a photo-sharing campaign where you challenge your church members to share their summer photos. Then share them on your social channels. It’ll make your members feel as if they’re enjoying summer activities together—even if they are miles apart!

You can also use a hashtag and encourage everyone sharing these pics to include it in their social media posts. That’ll make it easier to find and may encourage others to participate. 

Depending upon the size of your church, consider creating church member lists on social media to make it easier for families to follow one another. 

Send Them Off with Faith-Based Family Activities

Not every effort has to center on electronics. Providing family-centered activities designed to help your members grow spiritually while they are gone can be effective, too. Gather some of your team together (making sure you include people who work with children) to brainstorm different faith-filled activities that everyone in the family can do together while they’re gone. Here are a few kinds of activities to focus on. 

  • Activities they can do in the car. Families that go on vacation together often spend a lot of time in the car together. Brainstorm some ideas that help families talk about spiritual issues as they drive. These could be car games with a spiritual point. Or they could be a series of faith-filled questions.
  • Activities that help them explore. An important part of summer vacations is seeing new places and having new experiences. Provide some questions to help parents initiate spiritual conversations with their children when they’re in these situations—particularly when families are exploring nature together.
  • Activities that inspire reflection. Families can benefit from guided prayer together when they’re away on vacation. Give them topics (and people) to pray for while they are away from their church home. Consider creating a prayer wheel where children can spin and pray for specific topics highlighted by the wheel.
  • Activities that plug them into other worship experiences. Of course, you’ll find Christian worship services in most of the places that your congregants will visit. It’s great to get them to watch your services online, but family vacations are also opportunities to introduce them to other experiences as well. While their attendance elsewhere couldn’t be called engagement with your church, it is broadly church engagement.

    Point congregants toward online lists of churches that share your theological convictions. Most denominations allow you to search online databases of their churches in specific locations. 

Don’t forget to include the vacations of people who are not a part of traditional families. Singles (whether never married or widowed) take vacations as well. Anytime you promote churchwide activities for families, brainstorm some options for singles. 

So Don’t Give Up on Vacationers

It’s easy to just chalk up summer as a time of lower engagement. We all know the impact vacations can have on church attendance, giving, and overall engagement. But it doesn’t have to be so. 

Summer engagement matters. With a little effort, you can leverage online worship services, social media, and family activities to grow engagement so that discipleship doesn’t need to take a break in the summer months.

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