Summer is a time of good weather, vacation, and freedom. Everyone enjoys a slower pace to life as they sip their iced tea, lounge by the lake, and ride bikes with their kids ‘til dark. Our rhythms and schedules change during the summer months, and that also includes our church attendance.
Church leaders know that attendance will dip during the summer while people are out of town. But what about during a global pandemic when people cannot be physically present at a worship service and are growing weary of watching online services instead?
It’s time for pastors and church staff to step up their game and make sure church members stay engaged with church programming during the summer, despite travel conflicts and the desire to just stay out in the sunshine, playing and having fun.
Here are 5 Essential Keys to engaging your church members this summer.
ONE: Communicate! Keep the information flow to the church plentiful during the summer months. Fill your social media with posts on church life and special programming. Make sure everyone knows about you plans to reopen post-COVID-19 and the requirements for attending physical services once they begin. Continue offering special online services and devotionals to give people enough content to keep them interested. Overall, make sure everyone knows what’s going on and their questions about church are answered. Spend some time making personal phone calls or texting people individually to check in with them. Just letting them know you care.
TWO: Consistent and Creative Online Services: Since it appears churches will continue with online services for some time, even if limited in-person services are offered. Be sure that live-streaming continues to be a consistent option for those who choose to remain at home or want to watch while on vacation. To prevent viewer fatigue, change up the format of your online service from time to time, hoping to surprise viewers and urging them to tune in every week for compelling content that will draw them closer to Christ.
THREE: Offer Service Projects: People have a lot of physical needs right now. They need food, emotional counseling, and mental relief. For some who’ve lost their jobs, the financial burden is crushing and there seems to be no hope in sight. The summer months offer no relief because jobs are hard to find and their bills keep piling up. Let the Church help. Create service projects for your people to join. Offer meal delivery or driveway visits. Deliver gift cards or do yard work. Collect a database of people in need and match them with people willing to help. This will keep church members engaged not only with the church but also with one another.
FOUR: Appreciation Events: Your church surely has many volunteers that help to keep it running. During this unprecedented time of the global pandemic, volunteers may be doing even more of the work. Take the time to appreciate them. Host a driveway pancake breakfast to say thank you. Mail out some thank you gift cards for a cup of coffee. Feature volunteers on your social media to appreciate them. Even though they might not volunteer for recognition, everyone likes to be thanked. A little appreciation will go a long way and will keep them engaged and encourage others to get involved as well.
FIVE: Give Financial Updates: Since people are traveling and away from church more in the summer, tithes and offerings always dip during this time. This trend doesn’t need to continue. Churches can give regular financial updates through email or on social media. Church staff can write personalized thank-you notes to those who continue to give. The church can publicize its financial needs, whether that be a shortfall in normal giving or unexpected projects in need of monetary backing. Communicating regularly and with transparency will generate increased giving. Be grateful to those who give and inspire those who can give more.
Summer doesn’t have to be the time that people forget about church. Make sure your members know what’s going on, what they can get involved in, and that there is compelling content for them to tune in to every week. These things will keep bringing people back and will grow your church’s summertime engagement in effective ways.