Welcome to Summer!
Pastors and church leaders often talk about the “summer slump.”
The truth is, summer does bring about a different flow. School is out. The weather is nice. Days are longer. Pools, lakes, sports and vacations become a regular part of people’s lives. For the church, conversations about church attendance often come with the disclaimer, “well, during the summer we only have…”
But for many of these same reasons, the church can maximize during the summer months. Not everyone takes a vacation at the same time. There are still new people to be reached. There are more daylight hours! There are ways to use the summer to build momentum going into the fall.
Hope one or two of these ideas help in your church, your worship ministry, student ministry or kids ministry!
Tim Price (timpriceblog.com)
Overcome Summer Attendance Slump
Here are thoughts for keeping church attendance momentum up this summer:
1. Don’t Be Negative
Leaders often create a sense of the summer slump by focusing on it. Build up each Sunday during the summer. Don’t highlight the fact that several people are away. As much as possible, use language to build a culture of great ministry and momentum during the summer months. Encourage faithful attendance and giving. Celebrate the positive things going on!
2. Shorten The Summer
Do your best to keep the regular programs, worship components, and ministry moving forward with momentum through early to mid-June. Then kick off the fall in mid-August. Most schools begin in mid-August and people are already getting back to the routine. Too often, the church waits until after Labor Day and by then, families feel like they have already been in the flow for three or four weeks.
3. Be Visible In The Community
Summer offers some great opportunities to be visible in the community. March in a community parade. Set up a booth in the community homecoming. Send a volunteer team to help paint inside the local school or to spruce up the grounds. Create t-shirts and designate a few specific days for the church family to wear them around the community. Volunteer to give away refreshments in a local park during games a couple Saturday mornings. Figure out ways to shine in the community!
4. Have Some Fun In Planning
Can you bring in a special group for music at your church some Sunday? is there a special speaker you can invite? Why not plan a simple, lighthearted message series? Schedule testimonies from members of the congregation during the summer. Have some fun thinking of something new to try this summer! An outdoor service one day? Maybe try a morning coffee time at a local restaurant where church folks and others will know you will be there around 7 or 8 am to visit.
5. Capitalize On Short-Term Community Groups
Summer is a great time to meet and welcome new people and to work on assimilating them. Short-term community groups can be set a million different ways, so why not give it a try? Existing classes and groups can be encouraged to host a special series to invite new people. New groups might be created and centered around neighborhoods or communities. A summer weekday Bible study or prayer group could be hosted. A summer men’s ministry event could be a good start to more effective ministry in the school year. You might set up special community groups around an interest – such as music or outdoor ministry. These community groups can also work well with the next generation – special one-day outings for kids groups or student ministry. Encourage students to be involved in weekly community small groups.
6. Create Fellowship Times
The summer is a great time to have a church picnic, concert in the park, or ice cream social at the pastor’s home. It’s also a great season to throw a thank you party for various groups in your church – the children’s ministry volunteers, the worship team or choir, or the volunteer lawn care team. There are lots of ways to host fellowship events and summer makes it really easy with cookouts, the lake or a pool at someone’s home. Get a date on the calendar and invite someone to coordinate it.
7. Invest In Personal Renewal
When the leader gets better, everyone wins. When we are taking good care of our own spiritual, physical, and emotional lives, the whole church benefits. Plan now for your summer vacation and sabbath time. Plan some downtime. Carve out space in your calendar for more informal time with church members. Visit a couple other churches on your Sundays off. Attend a conference or camp where you are inspired by great preaching. Take part in a mission trip. Get family time on your calendar. Sharpen some of your routines and disciplines as you head into the fall.
Student Ministry Summer Ideas
Students are busy with sports, camps, jobs – and you may even have several big things planned for the church! But have you thought about these simple, mostly free things? The summer is a great time to do it.
8. Lunch Or Ice Cream
Set a day and time, pick a local restaurant or ice cream place, and let students know you’ll be there. Everyone can buy their own, hang out, have lunch and it’s a great way to bring a friend along too!
9. Late Night At Church
Plan a late-night event – following a student ministry meeting or another event at church. The late night could be some games, food, or a movie. End at a decent hour and send everyone home. This is another great way to invest in community and relationships.
10. Event T-Shirts
Order some t-shirts with a summer theme scripture or a list of ministry events and dates coming up in the school year. You can give these away or sell them.
11. Summer Small Group Series
Create a special small group for the summer. Maybe a girl’s group or a guy’s group. Maybe a special discipleship meeting with some student leaders a few mornings during the summer. Maybe you can do a fun/light series for your regular student ministry meetings. Another fun thing might be to give away an “attendance” prizes each time your student ministry meets in the summer. You can easily get donations of gift cards or other cool stuff to give away.
12. Social Media Series
Create a summer hashtag and do a fun series on social media. Ideas might include interviewing a different student each week, interviewing and posting a picture of one of your leaders each week, or maybe a contest of the craziest pictures from students all summer. Pick a hashtag to keep things unified and keep people sharing.
13. Serve Together at VBS (Or Other Special Event)
Is there a way to serve together at your church this summer? Some student ministry groups assemble to help with VBS or other kids’ camp. Sign up your students and then go out to lunch together after the last day.
14. Meet With The Pastor
Make a plan to meet with the pastor during a summer special event. Maybe it could be an ice cream party at the pastor’s home or an invitation for the pastor to come to talk with the student ministry some Sunday evening. Does your pastor have a hobby or interest that could be shared with the group? Someday during the summer is a great time for students to see an informal side of the church leadership.
Here are some ways every church can follow up on VBS:
15. Divide Up And Pray
Take your VBS attendance list, divide the names up and email the first name of a group of 5-10 kids to someone on the prayer team. Pray for these kids for the month following VBS.
16. Send Every Kid a Handwritten Note
Kids don’t typically get mail. Get a few volunteers (as many as you need) to write every kid a follow-up note. “Thanks for coming to VBS at _______________ Church. We were so glad to have you and enjoyed being with you for the week. I hope you had fun, learned a lot and hope to see you again soon! Your Friend, _______________. If you had 100 kids at VBS, you can enlist ten volunteers to each write ten simple notes.
17. Compile Your List – Mark Them Regular, Guest or Prospect
Working with a list is what follow-up is all about. Develop a system that works for you. Take the list of kids and mark them regular, guest or prospect. Regular kids are ones you see around church involved in ministry. Guests are ones who were from out of town or attend another church. Prospective kids/families are those who came to VBS, are from your region, and aren’t connected to a church. Start with the prospective kids/families and work to get them connected.
18. Send Invitations to the Kids for the Fall Kick-off / Ministries
Send a letter to each child/family inviting them to a fall kick-off celebration. Here are some ideas for fall kick off ministries.
19. Send a “Thanks” to Every Volunteer
Don’t forget to thank each volunteer who helped with the week of ministry. Here are some other ideas for “paying” your volunteers.
20. Share, Tag, Display, and Show Pictures From VBS
Tell a story with pictures. One way to follow up with the church is to make sure they see summer children’s ministry in action. Post pictures on Facebook, twitter and or Instagram (be careful with rules regarding faces of kids on social media. If uncertain, get pics from the back of the room while kids are singing). You can also print some pictures and post them around the church. Tag your leaders in pictures showing them having fun while serving in ministry.
21. Get Next Summer’s VBS Dates on the Calendar
One great part of follow-up is making initial, broad stroke plans for next year. Get the event on the calendar and invite people to help.
22. Send Parents Follow-up Questions to the Week
Help families follow up with their kids by sending them some questions they can ask their children from VBS week. Here are two general questions that help kids grow.
23. Thank the Church and Cast Vision for the Future
Find ways to thank the church for opening the doors for ministry to happen with children. Cast a vision for future children’s ministry. Share stories of changed lives.
There are so many reasons the Sabbath is important in the rhythm of life. You weren’t created to think and produce 24 hours a day. You and those you lead need to be reminded that time away is a natural, God-given recipe to a full and faithful life. It’s what keeps you grounded. It helps you remember that God is the one at work. It’s imperative to get it right.
The summer is a great time to be away and to play. Here are a few tips for ministry leaders:
24. Take all the vacation and days off you can take.
I say this to all the conscientious and hard-working ministry leaders; most I know work way more hours than they should and have such a heart for the church that they don’t think anything of it. Utilize the days off you have and your vacation time to maximize your ministry. Your time away will produce new perspectives, new ideas and new energy. One key to staying in a ministry role long term is balanced living in regards to your time away.
25. Be diligent in planning your Sabbath and/or play time.
Make sure you know the policies of days off, comp time and vacation time. Use it fully. To plan, make sure you have the calendar in front of you with all available input. It’s best if you can mark off time for play and fun before other smaller things creep in. Make sure you are diligent in planning for your downtime so you can maximize it. Put things down on your calendar in concrete. You may not have all the details of what you will do, but you have an idea and date and that is huge! Part of the benefit of taking time away is anticipating it. If you just wait until you’re fed up and then leave for a couple days, you miss out on the anticipation of the coming break.
26. Be creative with your free time.
It doesn’t have to cost money. It doesn’t have to be repetitive. It can be near or far. But you need to be creative in how to spend your time away. I have learned that my most productive times of rest and play are when I am geographically removed from my ministry region. Even if it’s just a short day trip or another concrete plan for one day off during the week. I love being at home too, but it’s when we are away I can fully unplug and recharge.
27. 100% at work and 100% at play.
One of the best gifts you can give to your church is 100% while you are there and working in ministry. In the same way, one of the best gifts you can give to yourself and to your family is to be 100% present when you are there with them. The stress of ministry life, unlike most any other profession, makes this a fine line. But do your best to chart out how you will accomplish what needs to be accomplished and how you will transition to Sabbath and play times. When you have given your all in your ministry role, your being away is welcomed and expected.
Worship Ministry Summer Ideas
Summer Sundays have a slightly more informal air about them for whatever reason. It’s a great season to try new things, take another step, spruce up the team, or get some things in order.
28. Learn New Songs
Plan to learn three new songs this summer and have them ready to add to the rotation by fall. If you are in a more traditional service, Summer Sundays are a good day to try out “requests” of favorite hymns or songs.
29. Invite and Recruit
Invite people to try out for the worship team. Recruit people for worship ministry roles and give them a chance to see how it all works during the summer.
30. Guest Worship Team
Do you know of a guest worship band or worship leader you could invite in for a Sunday morning? Maybe it’s when you’re on vacation or maybe it’s just a regular day where you give your own team a break.
31. Have Fun On Sundays
Have fun on Sundays! Of course, this should be every day, but maybe one Sunday this summer, the whole worship team could wear the same color or wear their favorite team shirt or whatever. Maybe there’s a song that doesn’t fit anytime, but you’d like to sing it.
Summer is a great time for a worship team cookout or another fun event. Having community events outside the regular rehearsals and services is crucial for effective ministry, motivation, and the cultivation of friendships.
33. Plan A Work Day Or Stage Organizing Day
It doesn’t take long for the stage storage area or other parts of the worship ministry to become disarray. Plan a time to come in and have a mini workday. Clean, organize, paint, build, or whatever projects you can come up with.
34. T-Shirts For The Band Or Hospitality Teams
The summer is a great time to get t-shirts for the worship teams or welcome teams. If you’re worship team ever plays outside the church for a summer community event, these are great to have.
Invest Time In Your Community
Our communities need us, whether they know it or not. We have an obligation to become students of the characteristics of the community around us. Here are some things every church should know about their community:
35. Attend community events
There are probably all kinds of events in your town or city that you would not only enjoy, but could be visible. Take a look, carve out time, and attend some games, attend the park concerts, take part in homecoming, and whatever else you can find!
36. Brush up on the demographics of the people around you.
There are several ways to research this. It might require some financial investment or maybe your denominational headquarters have access to subscriptions or a website that helps determine the age, income, length of time living in the community, family makeup, and many other factors of people around your physical church building. Do they consider themselves to be rural, urban, suburban, etc? Do they want to grow? Is the town alive? Struggling? Much of this is just what people believe about the community. How will you best minister to them? What style of community is it? What is the history of the community? What has been the story of growth or decline in the last few years? How long has your church been a part of the town and the area? What are people’s impressions of the church? Do you know the flow of your community – does it surge during harvest season? Does it go crazy over sports? Hunting weekends? Is it known for certain types of businesses? Are there landmarks that everyone knows? Are the people in our town proud of what they have together?
37. Connect with the school before the fall.
Every church needs a personal relationship with the school administration and staff. Know and appreciate the school leadership, no matter how large the districts. Be creative in ways to connect to them – invite them to the church for a free catered lunch one weekday per year. If you are working with more than one school, work to make connections through the church leadership in each school. It’s important for the schools to know that we are on their side in helping kids develop in life – and as Christ’s Church, we have the most important piece to that – the spiritual lives!
38. Invite Your People Into Mission
Our church folk needs the opportunity to serve in mission up close and personal. As they do, they will begin to experience what it means to be God’s hands and feet. This active involvement is about the only foolproof way to ensure that people will grasp it. There’s something about serving in the name of Jesus that empowers people. Figure out ways to actively offer mission opportunities to your church – both students and adults. It doesn’t have to cost money – it can be local, close-to-home opportunities to begin with. Pray for God to be at work in your church and your people. Pray for His light to shine over the darkness. Then take risks to be that light in the dark places, the highways, and byways to share God’s love. Re-read Isaiah 60 – and may the blessing of God’s light shine on you and your ministry today!
Maximize Summer Events When You Get Home
We want to get the value from the time we invest with kids and students at camps and mission trips. Here are some ideas:
39. Give students an opportunity to talk about their experiences.
If you are at the event with them, you can debrief each night or during the last evening. If you aren’t there with them, find a time to follow up with them after camp either at church or in your home. Ask open-ended questions that get them thinking: 1) What was the best thing about the week? 2) What was one thing that surprised you about the event? 3) What’s one new thought, idea, or concept that you’re bringing home with you? 4) Describe someone you met during the event? Tell me an interesting story about them. 5) Describe your energy level during the week? Why do you think that was? 6) Where did you see God at work?7) What might be one way your life will be changed because of God’s work in your heart this week?
40. Post pictures and video
Post these pictures on social media, someplace around the church building physically, and remind them of their experience over the course of the fall.
41. Special lunch or dinner
Invite prayer partners, parents, supporters, family, and the church, in general, to hear about your experience at camp or on the mission trip.
42. Next year’s dates
Get the dates early for next year and begin letting the families of the students know about them.
43. Keep telling the stories from the summer
Tell the stories from the summer! Explain the inside jokes to the students who didn’t experience it (include them in on it, don’t just say, you had to be there). Lovingly utilize the new (and uplifting) nicknames that kids might have acquired during the summer trip. Keep the habit of praying as a group going at home.
44. Be faithful week in, week out
Remember, as important as a week of ministry during the summer is, nothing replaces week-in and week-out discipleship of meeting together, praying for each other, and modeling a faithful walk with Christ. Keep the energy going by making that foundation strong.
Prepare For The Fall
Intentionally schedule some time this summer to solidify your fall and school year season of ministry!
45. Plan Your School Year Calendar
What does the broad stroke calendar look like for your life and ministry? Do you have your vacation planned, your training events in, and your special family things all down on the calendar? Next put in high points for the church – Christmas, Easter, special Sundays, big weekends, and traditional events. Fill in any other dates – the fall kick-off, the new year kick-off, guest preachers, and other high points you know of. Get Your Vision from the Clouds to the Calendar | 11 Ways to Bring Clarity To A New Student Ministry Calendar Year
46. Use August As A Booster
In many ways, it’s a really a two-month summer and August is the new fall. sports teams, school bands, and the school itself all kick back up early to mid-August. The first push on the routine isn’t after Labor Day, it’s about the third week of August. Use this momentum as a booster for church attendance, student ministry kick-off, children’s ministry, and everything else. Capitalize on the momentum of August. Eight Ways To Make August A Ministry Booster (Student Ministry)
47. Brush up on Delegation Skills
You can’t do this next year alone! Who will you lean on to help move the church and ministry forward? Part of any leader’s role is to delegate… and that takes time and discipline. Here are some simple steps: 1) write out ten small job descriptions of things you do on a regular basis that someone else could easily do with a little direction. 2) Pray for some people to come to mind who may enjoy those roles. 3) Talk with them and pitch the idea. 4) Walk with them through it to show them. 5) Develop the art of passing off all you can so you’re able to contribute the most significant part of your gifts to leading the general ministry. 44 Things Youth Workers Might Delegate
48. Develop Your Prayer Plan
Nothing happens without prayer. Schedule a prayer retreat. Schedule a time on your calendar to pray each week for an extended time. Develop a prayer plan for the fall. How will you pray for your church, your students, your leaders or your kids ministry? How will you incorporate others to pray with you? Develop a Prayer Plan and Watch God Work | Persistent Prayer is Powerful | 12 Ways To Delegate Prayer
What new thing can you try in your life or ministry? Have you been thinking about a hobby? Have you been thinking about a new second or third service? Have you had an idea for a new ministry or do you need to attend a new conference? Every season ought to bring something new. Work on the discipline of thinking of new things to try and build that into the culture of your life and ministry. Eight Keys To Learning New Things | Ministry Leaders: Do Something New This Fall (Here Are 52 Ideas)
50. Be Creative with your children or youth ministry fall kick-off
Kick off the fall with some energy and momentum. Plan an opening event. Plan an outreach event. Talk it up and publicize it. Introduce new leaders. Get a school year theme. Get one word that you want your team to focus on. Pick a scripture verse to focus on for the fall. Be creative involving the church in ministry to kids and students. Invite, Invite, Invite! Fall Kick-Off Ideas for Student Ministry