Do you have a lot of empty chairs in the summer? So do we. It’s that time of year when entire families disappear. Your volunteers go MIA. And of course, the offering takes a hit as well.
Is there anything you can do? We have some tips for you to get through the summer successfully and come out on the other side.
Plan and Regroup
Most progress is made through periods of planning then execution. You can overlap planning and execution: that is the only way to scale over time. But every organization needs a place to breathe , and Summer is a great time for your church to catch a breath.
- Plan for the following year – the timing is perfect to put together your plan, calendar and goals for the following year. Sure there are some items that are larger and need even earlier planning, and some items that may be able to wait, but for most programs and events Summer is the perfect time to focus on planning. The natural dips of summer give your leaders a chance to back off of DOING so much and lets then plan around your church’s mission
- Re-prioritize and Refocus for the remainder of the year – How do you measure success? What are your KPI’s (key-performance-indicators)? Well, whatever they are some of them are not where you want them to be. So take the time to take a close look at what’s working and what isn’t and shift for the remainder of the year. This natural feedback loop is critical. So do some surveys with your leaders and people, look into your reporting & analytics and start making those corrective shifts to get you on track. This is one of the most valuable things you can do – so don’t overlook the opportunity to incorporate valuable information and make whatever changes are needed.
- Seed any changes you want to start making – No ship turns immediately. Neither does your church. Whatever you want to start doing tomorrow, you can plant the seeds today. New roles can be announced anytime, but sometimes getting a person engaged before an announcement can make transitions smoother. The same goes with programs. Often before launching a new program, it makes sense to have a “pilot”. You can choose a small pilot group and see how things go. This can help make things a lot smoother when you role the program out to everyone
- Meet one-on-one with with individual leaders – Your leaders are gold to your church. Hearing them out is good for them, but it’s also invaluable for the senior leadership and pastor. Hey, it’s summer so you can make it casual with bar-b-que and a nice time to get together. This is starting to sound better with each sentence!
- Have a leadership retreat for planning and dreaming – Instead of meeting 1-on-1 you can have a “planning retreat” for your leaders to come together for an evening, or even an overnight planning session. It is amazing how much work gets accomplished with people together in the same room. Finding the perfect time in summer may be a little difficult, but if you can get the time reserved on your leaders’ schedules, try to keep 1 weekend for church planning so that you can be successful.
Make sure your digital giving is active and well communicated
It’s a great idea to have as many forms of giving enabled for your church. Make it so that everybody can participate whether they have cash, check, or just their mobile device with them. And make it easy to give if they know or even if they don’t know they’re going to be missing from service. Giving on your website, via mobile app, text-to-give and other options make it possible so that when people are traveling or out of church they can still give. These days churches can beat the summer giving slump. Regular communication about your digital giving options can push your church to 50% or even 60% of your supporters giving digitally. They can even enable automatic giving. Most people want to support their church faithfully, so give them the chance.
Your church management software should be able to provide digital giving options.
Engage through digital channels
The biggest opportunity that you have today is that you can communicate with people easier than ever before. If you are just preaching the gospel from the pulpit, then you are missing out on all of those who don’t show up at your church. There’s no reason to keep the gospel locked up in a church just a few times a week. Shout it from the rooftop! You can definitely use social media channels such Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and others to highlight your services, programs, ministries, community events and the way that your church and ministry makes an impact on the world.
You can also use direct channels such as email campaigns and even text messaging to engage the people who support your church.
- Highlight the successes of your ministries and programs
- Contact your guests and newcomers continually to keep them engaged
- Communicate your upcoming Events
- Invite people to serve and be a part of your church
Finally, there’s no reason to fight the natural dips that churches experience during the summer. We should embrace it and learn to plan around it.
- Promote family time – this time can never be made up and what else could be more important than your families being closer together?
- Encourage the healing effects of rest and relaxation – people work hard, and they need their time to recharge
- Don’t cast a negative light on your leaders’ time away – phrases like “How long will you be gone?” or “It must be nice to take that big vacation” are probably not going to help. Instead, thank them for their service. Wish them a great time and let them know they will be missed – and things can be managed while they’re gone. It goes a long way to creating a culture of appreciation for the hard work they do.
- Take a break yourself – every church leader needs to take time. It’s important that others see you take time. It’s an acknowledgement that the Sunday church experience is not the end-all of our Christian existence
That’s it for now. Time to relax a little, recharge, regroup for the rest of the year and most of all use the Summer slump to your advantage.
If your church is looking for a Church Management Software system to help with your digital giving, text-to-give, mobile giving and if you and if you are looking for church texting, email and engagement features , make sure to check out Faith Teams. It is a powerful, simple and well priced service for your church.