How To Keep Your Church Engaged Throughout Summer
The scorching hot temperatures, radiant sunshine, time off from school, and endless free time could only mean one thing in Minnesota and across the country. It’s summertime! That means families are traveling, gathering for BBQs, hanging out poolside, sleeping in, and overall enjoying the refreshing break of summer vacation.
It also means, if you are a pastor or church leader, you may see a slump in church attendance or overall engagement throughout the summer months. We know it can feel discouraging to watch your attendance dwindle throughout these months and people engage in summer travel and other activities over attending church services. But what if we told you your church didn’t have to become a ghost town every summer?
Maybe it’s time to flip the script. Perhaps you could make summertime a place of booming activity, engagement, refresh, and growth for your congregation. In this post, we will discuss some ways, with a bit of intentionality and planning, you can transform summertime at your church into a lively time of growth and opportunity.
What Is The Church Summer Slump?
The summer slump is felt by pastors and churches across the country. It’s a time of decreased church attendance during the summer that can lead to many difficulties depending on the church. This seemingly inevitable time makes it hard to gain momentum throughout the year, increase engagement, reach neighboring communities, and can have an impact financially. According to some research done by churchanswers.com here’s what was found about the summer slump.
-A typical average decline is 20 percent
-Snowbird churches tend to have greater fluctuations
-Churches in towns dominated by colleges have declines greater than 20 percent
-Churches that give a summer break to their small groups typically have a decline greater than 20 percent
How to Combat The Summer Slump
The statistics and experiences of pastors all around the country don’t lie. However, the consequences of a summer slump can be much greater than attendance numbers. The people of God were designed to be in a biblical community year-round, not just 9 months out of the year. When large portions of a congregation are taking the summer off from church attendance, how many actually come back? How is their faith affected over those summer months? Were they engaged in biblical discipleship and community?
In Hebrews 10:25 we are instructed to “not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Many churches have surrendered to the summer slump by slowing down programming, ending small groups, or decreasing service options in the summer. Maybe it’s time to take the opposite approach. Take back summer and biblical community year-round with a few of these ideas today!
1. Host Summer Events
Believe it or not, summertime in the church can be just as exciting as summer at the beach or pool. Hosting fun summer events is a great way to keep people engaged. These events can be as elaborate or laid back as you wish.
Even if you aren’t hosting a worship service or giving a message from the stage, having people in the church building enjoying fellowship can be just as powerful.
Here are a few ideas of events you could host outside of Sunday services to allow your congregation and surrounding community a relaxed and fun-filled opportunity to enjoy biblical community.
- Outdoor Movie Nights.
- Sports Tournaments
- Day Trips
- Summer Picnics
- Vacation Bible School
- Worship Nights
2. Participate in Community Volunteer Opportunities
Summer is a really great time to organize service projects in your local community. People tend to have more free time and families especially are looking for opportunities to allow their kids to give back through service.
This year, National Serve Day is July 15th 2023. If your church doesn’t already have plans to participate we encourage you to put together a few service projects on this day.
A couple of ideas to get you started could include:
- Help at the local food shelf
- Serving at a local homeless shelter
- Clean up local park and highways
- Provide free lawn mowing or landscaping to neighbors
- Volunteer in local nursing homes
- Partner with local organizations to fill needs
- Make cards for your cities police and fire departments
It can be fun to organize a large serving event such as a serve day, but we also encourage you to find opportunities that you can partner with year-round, as many wish to continue serving after experiencing a service event. What a great opportunity for your church to be the hands and feet of Christ to your community.
3. Provide Summer Ministry Opportunities
As we mentioned above, many churches have surrendered to the inevitable summer slump and slow down all their usual programming in response. Unfortunately, this only encourages disengagement and takes away opportunities from those who want to stay involved.
For this reason, we encourage you to continue to resource your congregation and community to stay engaged. This can look different from the ministry you do at other times of the year, but we encourage you to still be intentional with it. A couple of ideas could include:
- A church-wide summer bible reading plan or challenge
- Summer-specific small groups
- Special summer service times
- Outdoor activities before or after services
Help your church stay engaged this summer by providing specific resources to participate in a bible reading plan or host a summer small group. The easier you make it for them, the better.
4. Provide Online Back-up
We know soccer tournaments, family vacations, and late-night bonfires will happen throughout the summer. No one is asking for perfect church attendance, we are simply encouraging that church attendance be a priority year-round.
When summer travel or special occasions come up that keep your congregation away, providing online backup means of engagement is great! If you stream your services online, a family can listen in on their way to a sports tournament. If you post on social media attendees can stay in the know on what event happened while they were away.
Staying engaged with your congregation online will help them stay connected even when they are absent and make it harder for them to miss out.
A couple of ways to stay in front of your congregation online include:
- Engage on social media
- Send out a weekly newsletter or video message
- The Torchable App
Online church attendance will never fully replace in-person attendance, but it can be a great backup option to help keep your congregation engaged in the life of the Church.
Staying Connected Year Round
You may be in the middle of the dreaded summer slump right now. We encourage you to take this time to think about how you could internally take back summer at your church next year. Whether it be through events, groups, or online ministry opportunities, it can all be done through the Torchable App.
The Torchable App was designed to help the local church better reach and engage with the surrounding community and their congregations. This one app can help your congregation connect to people, groups, churches, and events in their local church community, helping them stay engaged throughout summer and year round!