Ah… summer. Time for vacations, kid activities, camps, and relaxation. Sounds wonderful—unless you are a pastor! For us, it’s the inevitable summer slump.
If you are a brand new pastor you are probably thinking, “Not me. There will be no slump in my church. We will grow!” I would say to you, “Oh, little grasshopper, slow it down and learn a little bit.” Very few churches grow in the summer; they are the anomalies. However, you can still thrive in some other areas that will position you well for the fall. Just because attendance will be a little lower during the summer doesn’t mean you can’t thrive.
Here are a few ways to thrive during the summer slump:
Slow things down a little.
Unless you are a larger church, you will have a majority of key leaders that are volunteers. Use the summer to slow them down some. Let off the gas when it comes to programs, events, changing series, etc. Your team will love you for this. Rest is much needed if you plan to ramp it up in the fall.
Force some of your key leaders to take a Sunday or two off. Yes, off… not in church with you. Trust me—their salvation is not in jeopardy. Let them go visit another church to expose them to different things.
Take time off.
Yes, pastor, this means you. Let someone else speak on a Sunday, and not just a Sunday you know is a low attendance day. I am not talking about once in early July. Bringing in guest speakers and using people in house is a great way for you to just enjoy your church. You can also go visit churches in your area.
“But, I don’t have anyone” is typically the response. Usually, though, you have people in your church who can fill in. They might not be a polished speaker, but they won’t develop without a chance.
You need time away from church as well. And, no, conferences and campmeetings don’t count as time away.
The summer is a great time to deepen relationships with your staff, key leaders, volunteers, and fringe attenders. Having a cookout, going to the beach, or even camping are great ways to get to know someone better. The deeper the relationship gets, the more leverage you have to truly help them in life.
Strategically chose a summer series.
Most of the time, visitors will be low, and your core church attenders are in the house. Use this time to really dig deep into Scripture. We generally create a series that is heavier than usual on the theological side to really challenge our core attenders.
Most pastors I know have a hard time with this. They feel like they have to have their foot on the gas all the time to really be a “faithful servant.” The bottom line is that we have to understand the calendar, leverage it to do things the best way possible, and find other ways to get ready for the next season.
This summer, don’t focus on the lower attendance. Instead, see all the other great things happening in your life and the life of your church!