The Summer Slump. Every church leader knows exactly what those words mean. It means a drop in attendance, decreased participation, and reduced giving. According to statistics shared by LifeWay, when compared to highest attendance months, average Sunday morning attendance drops by 23 percent in June and 34 percent in July.
Stop the Slump
The summer slump can be demoralizing to church leaders and financial administrators as the ministry attempts to make progress toward the vision with fewer people and less money. If an unexpectedly deep summer slump is experienced, it can impact the church’s ability to build momentum in the fall as energy and funds are needed to replenish unplanned losses.
In a recent survey, we asked churches of all sizes and denominations how they handle the summer slump. The answers varied from “waving the white flag of surrender” to “taking out a loan” to “doing nothing!"
So, what is a church leader to do? Some leaders have taken a passive approach saying, “Let’s just see how it works out.” This has come with varying outcomes, but usually delivers less than desirable results. However, there is a way that could prove profitable. We’ll call it the “Proverbs 21:5 Road Map” – a way to stop the summer slump, or at least prevent summer slumps from zapping all of the momentum from your church.
“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” – Proverbs 21:5
In Proverbs 21:5, Solomon shares two potential outcomes: profit or poverty. If given the choice, of course, we would all choose profit over poverty. In this verse, great wisdom is provided to show us how to produce a profit. Solomon says it is important to have a plan. Read Proverbs 21:5 again. Do you see it?
Talking About Money
Many pastors don’t like to talk about money. In fact, many have shared they actually hate to talk about money. This should not be the case. Money is an important part of our everyday lives! It is one of the two leading causes of divorce in our society. To ignore it in the church is to allow the world to influence your congregation’s view of money. Will that be a godly influence? Jesus referenced money or possessions in 17 of the 38 parables documented in the Gospels.
When people decide to begin giving to the Lord’s work, they haven’t just made a financial decision. They have also made a spiritual decision! This is because they have decided, often driven by biblical teaching, to trust God with what the world trusts most – money and possessions. Do you believe the Lord will honor their decision? Absolutely!
Perhaps one reason many church leaders don’t want to talk about money is because they feel like they are asking for something from their people. Andy Stanley, Senior Pastor of North Point Community Church, addressed this very feeling when he said, “When people are convinced you want something FOR them rather than something FROM them, they are less likely to be offended when you challenge them.”
It is all about approach and motives. Will you challenge people to give solely because it helps you accomplish the vision? Or is it so people will honor the Lord with their money and possessions and position themselves for blessings from Him?
The main reason attendance wanes during the summer is because church leaders know many people will be gone, so they back off funding for vision-driven initiatives. They reason that spending on summer initiatives isn’t the best use of giving dollars because of the summer slump. In doing so, it creates a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Think about it for a minute. Failing to prepare for and fund summer initiatives ensures the summer slump will happen!
One way to reduce or eliminate the slump is to offer EPIC events throughout the summer. These are amazing moments created to engage your people and compel them to stick around.
EPIC is an acrostic for: Every Person Is Coming
An event becomes EPIC when it has the following two characteristics:
Joseph Sangl, the President/CEO of INJOY Stewardship Solutions, unpacks this idea in more detail in the video below entitled “Stop Summer Slump”
It features a conversation on BIG events and the following:
· How to PREPARE to STOP the summer giving slump.
· How to implement a 90-Day Tithe Challenge.
· The importance of digital giving and its effect on summer generosity.
· And much, much more!
Get your entire team together and let’s learn how to increase ATTENDANCE and GIVING this summer!