Summer is my favorite time of year. I love the heat, the sun, and the relaxed atmosphere that comes from my kids being out of school. Apparently, a lot of other people feel the same because as you’ve probably noticed, each summer you see your church attendance plummet. People take advantage of the longer days by going to the beach, the lake, the mountains, the pool, the car wash, the mall, and anywhere else that isn’t the church.
So, how can you keep this from happening? You can’t, and if you try you’ll more than likely just end up frustrated. Sometimes it’s best to just face reality and lower your expectations. For most of us, less people are going to show up at church during the summer. However, there are some things we can do this summer that may actually increase our attendance this fall.
- Host a few special events. Summer is a great time to host an event because of all the reasons I described above. People have more free time, and they’re looking for things to do. You could host an outdoor movie night. You could grill hamburgers and hot dogs and ask everyone to bring a side dish. You could rent an inflatable water slide for the kids and ask everyone to bring homemade ice cream. The great thing about events is it gives people the opportunity to invite their friends who may normally not show up to church. If you use this time to build relationships with new people, you may just see them attend your church this fall.
- Get out in the community. Look for ways you can go into the community and meet people. That may be volunteering at a little league game, giving away bottled water at the annual 4th of July event, or going to the local pool and giving away free ice cream. The main thing is your church is serving the community, and people tend to remember that.
- Keep small groups going. Summer is one of the best times for small groups, and yet many churches take the summer off. Yes, people will be more sporadic in their attendance during the summer, but that’s no reason to call them off. Instead, offer more casual groups that don’t require people to show up every week. You can focus on spiritual growth in the spring and fall, but during the summer, focus on building community.
- Do a complete facility check-up. Is there anything that needs to be fixed or replaced? Do we need to paint? What’s that smell coming from the men’s bathroom? Ideally, you should be asking these questions each month, but if not, the summer is a great time to tackle these projects. The look and feel of your facility has a big impact on whether or not a guest will come back to your church.
- Plan out the rest of your year. The good thing about the summer attendance slump is that it usually ends right around the time school starts back. How can you take advantage of this? Spend some time this summer thinking through what sermon series would be appealing to the people you’re trying to reach. What small groups could you offer to meet people where they are? How can you invest in your volunteers this fall to grow them? The summer is a great time to get all of these things written down.
If all you focus on this summer is your attendance numbers, you’re probably going to be disappointed. Instead, focus on the areas that may grow your attendance this fall.
Does your church experience the summer slump? If so, how do you make the most of this time? Let us know by leaving a comment below, and while you’re here make sure to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.