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Reframe the “summer slump” of low church attendance

low church attendance

Reframing Summer

If you’re in ministry you know about the “summer slump” when it comes to church attendance. Numbers are low and overall engagement dwindles as people travel and can’t be there every week. 

This can easily become a discouraging and even a dreaded time for pastors and leadership teams. 

It’s true that many families vacation and can’t connect as much during the summer months and that can be tough for Sunday mornings. So what can we do about this?

Let’s start by reframing how we think about summer. Rather than focusing on attendance, what if we focus on using this time that’s a little less busy to realign to our core values and do things that will bring excellence in the future. Look at summer as and asset, a chance to reset, realign and invest in the folks that are here.

Now I get it, our shiny new positive outlook won’t change the numbers on Sunday morning. But if we use these months wisely, we can be refreshed and ready to go come September.

See if any of these ideas and questions resonate as you think about how your church can reframe summer as a catalyst to making the rest of the year even better than the last.

A time of rest

We’ve recognized that some of our church body is out having fun and just resting in general. What about us? What about the pastors, leadership and volunteers? Resting is a biblical principle and burn-out is real. If we can be gracious with others, let’s not forget to be gracious with ourselves. Take a look at when your pastor has last had a real vacation. Maybe you are the pastor. Is it time to utilize a trusted team member to speak on a Sunday so you and your family can recharge?

How about your core leadership  and non-paid volunteers? Volunteers do what they do out of an amazing heart and we appreciate and love them. But they may need to be encouraged to take time off to rest.

Please be aware that volunteers, have the natural propensity to overcommit. They are generous people and want to do everything you are asking and more. In the long run they find themselves exhausted but may not say anything for fear of seeming unreliable or unfaithful. We can look out for them by recognizing signs of burn-out or better yet, encouraging rest so burn-out never happens.

Evaluate your online sermon ministry

Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting streaming your videos. The effort that goes into streaming and streaming well is substantial, so I don’t recommend this for smaller churches.

Focus instead on getting a quality recording and editing process to get your sermons online for later viewing. This may involve a little research and buying a camera. This will not only create a good experience for your church body year round but, if done right, can also be effective to reaching people in your area who don’t go to your church yet. More on that in a later post.

Re-work your weekly emails

Are your church wide emails the same rotating list of events every week? Would you open an email that was the same from week to week? Since less people are in church during summer, the newsletter is a great way to communicate events. But maybe we can do it more creatively. Stories resonate best with an audience. Try including one from an event. Re-evaluate your letter to see if it’s interesting, maybe you can use a more relational rather than business-like tone.

Make sure your social is growing

How is your engagement on social media, is it growing? Are you reaching people outside of your church? 

Use this time to research and create a plan and a schedule for your churchs’ social media.

If you are struggling to come up with ideas to post on your platforms, consider your sermons as the main source. The rhythm of the weekly message provides valuable content for you to use creatively on social channels. Here are some ways you can repurpose your sermons.

  • Create 30 sec. – 1 min. shorts video with captions (post on youtube, instagram reels & tik tok)
  • Grab a quote from the sermon for an image post (post on instagram & facebook feeds)
  • Use captivating points from the message for a bold carousel graphic (post on instagram & facebook feeds)

You don’t have to post 7x a week. If you are able to do 3-5x, that’s great! The important thing is that it is consistent and relevant. As with your email, be sure you are not just posting events but you are finding that sweet spot where faith and culture collide, this is where you will see engagement.

Equip Your Team & Cast Vision

This is probably my favorite one because it’s geared toward discipleship and investing in people face to face.

If your church doesn’t send out emails and isn’t on social media you can do this! What better time to invest in your leaders or potential leaders than when the pace has slowed?

This might look like a summer mentorship program, one-on-one discipling or training in a small group setting. 

Use this time to gather your core leaders and realign with the vision of the church. The benefits of this time will be exponential!

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I'm Meridith

A mom and wife based in Arizona. I love good design and have worked in small churches for lots of years. Now I’m sharing my collection of sermon graphics and some things I’ve learned along the way.

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