Do the dog days of summer equal a death sentence for activity and outreach?
A recent conversation on a Sunday went something like this:
Staff member: “Where is everyone?”
Me: “It’s summer.”
Staff member: “But it still seems low, even for summer.”
Me: “This is still up percentage-wise well over last year … “
Staff member: “But it doesn’t feel like it.”
Me: “No, it never does.”
The next day, I received an email from a church staffer at another church. His question prompted this post. He wondered how to handle the long days of summer, when church crowds are smaller, budgets are tighter and volunteers are harder to find.
Honestly, it can be disappointing if you focus on attendance alone. And anyone who says they don’t is simply much more mature than I am. You recently celebrated the crowds of Easter. One of the highest times of attendance is followed shortly after by the dog days of summer. (I know some churches that are equally impacted seasonally, but at other times of the year.)
The fact is, the time to prepare a summer sermon takes as long as sermon preparation does in September. Or it should. But fewer people may hear it. At least in person. If you are not intentional, it can be discouraging.
What Should the Church Do During the Summer Months?
Here are a few thoughts:
1. Plan and budget accordingly. Recognize the obvious. People are going to be traveling more. The lakes will be full of boats. If your church has them, this will include paid staff, but certainly volunteers. You know it’s coming. Plan for it. Intentionally.
2. Find ways to stay in touch. Emails are even more important. Facebook, church newsletters and websites become even more valuable. You want people to hear from you and know what is happening even when they aren’t always there. Information helps people feel and remain connected.
3. Enter in with lower expectations, not lower presentations. Less people may be with you Sunday, but the people who are there shouldn’t suffer because of it. What they receive may be different. You may not have the volunteers or staff to pull off a full schedule of activities, but what you put together shouldn’t suffer in excellence. The fact is, people will visit in the summer, sometimes even more so than during the fall or winter. Churched people aren’t the only ones out of their routine. Unchurched people often have more open schedules and are open to visiting if they are invited.