How to Leverage the Summer for Growth

5 Ways You Can Experience Summer Church Growth

Church Revitalization Podcast – Episode 92

Has your church ever experienced a summer slump? Of course it has. Nearly every church sees a dip in attendance over the summer, and it can make you want to shrug your shoulders and take the loss. But what if you could leverage the summer and experience summer church growth?

Not all growth is numerical, but all growth contributes to your overall health. Below, we’ll explore five things you can do to grow as a church over the summer–and who knows, perhaps your congregation may pick up some new people along the way!

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Be Families-Focused

Even though families adjust their rhythms over the summer and may take a week or two for vacation, most parents still need to work. Therefore, parents are looking for ways to keep their kids occupied–ideally without the Internet or video games as a babysitter.

The more opportunities you can provide for families, the better. Obviously, a VBS is a great outlet for families, but it’s just one week. What resources could your provide throughout the summer? Do you have a playground that you could promote to the community as open for regular use? Do you have a coffee shop that you could open up so work-from-home parents could get coffee while kids play outside? Could you host a block party or a family-friendly drive-in movie?

Bottom line, don’t assume that just because you can’t offer a huge program throughout the summer that you can’t do anything at all. Take advantage of the facilities and resources you have, and think about how you can leverage them to serve the families in your community.

Be Present at Community Events

Odds are, your local city or town has events planned for the summer. It might be music downtown or events in the park. Take a look at what the city has to offer, and see how you can be present in a positive way.

Set up a booth with temporary tattoos, face-painting, or other kid-friendly activities. Be seen in your community, and develop a relationship with community members. The goal isn’t to advertise your church services. Instead, simply focus on being known in the community as a positive influence. Far too many churches are unknown by their community because they are unseen. Leverate summer events planned by the city as an opportunity to build a bridge to your neighborhood.

Make Space for Planning

Summer is an excellent time to plan ahead. You might think that it’s too hard to get leaders together over the summer because of varying travel plans. This isn’t true. If you can get 80% of the right people in a room for an intentional day or two of planning, that’s more than enough–particularly if you have a set process like Strategic Envisioning (which is designed to ensure a certain set of planning deliverables).

Because summer is usually a break from the normal routines of the organization, it’s an excellent time to evaluate ministries and gain perspective. It also gives you the space you need to make shifts for the upcoming year. Too many churches wait to start planning in the fall, and they miss a golden opportunity to implement key changes at the beginning of a ministry year. Carve out some time for planning, and your church will experience healthy growth as a result.

Take Time for Team Building

In the week-to-week grind of ministry, most interactions among church leaders tend to be around a table in a boardroom. Meetings are about making decisions, shifting budgets, and getting things done. The business of “doing church” can overshadow the relational aspects of laboring together in the kingdom.

Summer provides an opportunity for both planned and unplanned team building activities. Spend some time at a local park as a staff. Go to lunch. Go on a hike as a board. Find relaxing activities for the team to do, and set an informal rule of not “talking shop.” The reality is that if you invest in the relationships, you’ll see the results in the boardroom and staff meetings. Relational investments always pay dividends. Relational growth is important; don’t miss the opportunity that summer provides to build into those relationships.

Reset the Scoreboard

Coming out of the pandemic, it’s critical that your church finally hit “reset” on your scoreboard. It’s time to stop thinking about how you have 70% of your church back. The truth is, in most instances, where you are right now is 100% of your church. This is your new baseline. Now it’s time to think about the future. Covid proved that attendance was always an unreliable predictor of spiritual health and vitality. What could you choose to measure that better indicates health and growth? What are the best ways to show that your church is making an impact and that the congregation is growing in their faith? Attendance is a lagging indicator. It tells you something, but not everything–and certainly not the most important things. Take time over the summer to readjust your expectations, your measures, and your goals for the year to come.

Is your church likely to see a dip in attendance over the summer? Probably. But there are more ways to grow than in attendance. And your church can still grow in its effectiveness, relationships, and impact in the community over the summer.

What will you do to grow this summer? Let us know in the comments.

Scott Ball is the Vice President and a Lead Guide with The Malphurs Group. He lives in East Tennessee with his wife and two children. (Email Scott).

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