Note: This is part one of a two-part article. For part two, click here.
Would you like June, July and August to be months of strength and growth for your church?
It's possible ... It should be.
Sometimes churches create their own "summer slump" by backing off on ministry during the lazy days of summer.
Now nobody's calling anybody a sluggard here, but there's a principle in Proverbs 20:4 that speaks to that:
"Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing."
Plow, then harvest. If you don't plow in summer because you've ushered in your annual summer slump, then don't be surprised when the harvest in the fall underwhelms you.
... your church can turn the summer slump upside down and make it a season of:
- new volunteers
- leadership development
- faithfulness in giving
- new connections and friendships
- and, rest.
Here are nine ways we make summer the best time of the year.
Which ones will help your church move forward this summer?
1. Hold an automated giving drive.
Sorry to start with the money part, but it's something that needs your attention before summer arrives if you want giving to stay steady over the summer.
An automated giving drive is a short run in weekend service announcements where you ask your members to sign up to have their donation regularly deducted from their bank account so they remember to give even when they aren't in church.
Twenty-five percent of our congregation uses automated giving. They give faithfully whether they come to church or not.
That's good for the church. We can keep doing ministry, paying our bills and worrying less about the budget. But more importantly, it's good for the giver. It releases all God's first-fruit promises (Ex. 13:2, Prov. 3:9-10, Mal. 3:10-11) into their lives.
I talk about how to hold an automated giving drive in an article titled "How to Unlock your Church's Giving Potential."
2. Have a VBS that involves the entire church.
We used to think Vacation Bible School was for the kids. The kids have some fun. We do some outreach and evangelism.
Now we know that the kids are an excuse for all the other good things that happen in our church from our Kids Camp.
Here's what a church-wide VBS does:
- Attracts new families to your church.
- Gives kids an understanding of the Gospel and an opportunity to receive Christ.
- Gives your churched kids an extended time of discipleship and fun together.
- Gives small leadership opportunities for growing leaders (including teens).
- Gives new volunteers a "first serve." No lifetime commitment, just a good taste of ministry.
- Disciples your teens and young adults. Having a group of campers for five days is exhausting and challenging, and that's where life-change happens.
I also wrote an article on "Vacation Bible School: 8 Steps to a VBS That Attracts Families to your Church."
3. Send some to camp.
Forest Home is a Christian camp about 90 minutes from us. Some of our families go to their Family Camp every summer.
We spent a week there every summer with a bunch of New Song families while our kids were growing up.
This summer, we're going back with three generations: our kids, who are now the parents, and their littles. Next summer, we plan to bring more New Song families with us.
Our youth pastor will be taking the teens to camp as well.
God will work in each person at camp. He always does. That's good for them, and it's good for the health of your church to have a "Come away and rest together" opportunity.
People bond over food, and families bond over vacations. Combine them both, and it's a double-win.
4. Send some on Missions Trips.
New Song has adopted Panama as our country of strategic focus. We're sending a group there this summer to help plant a church and strategize the planting of another church next summer.
Mexico is in our backyard, so we'll also send some weekend teams to do street evangelism with Gospel Colors Outreach. Talk about discipleship! Every time we go with Gospel Colors, close to a hundred Mexican villagers come to Christ. Our people come home spiritually pumped and theologically convinced that God can use them to win people to Christ.
Compassion International holds a "Compassion Sunday" every year at the end of April. We'll be participating with them this year. We'll ask our members to each adopt a child from the nation of Bolivia. If enough New Songers sign up, we'll schedule a trip to visit our children sometime soon – probably in the summer :-).
You don't have to do everything. Just do something. Challenge a group to go to help others and get their own lives changed.
5. Have retreats for the Staff and Board.
We schedule the Staff Retreat and the Board Retreat back to back. My Executive Pastor and I go to both. Monday morning through Tuesday noon is the Board retreat and Tuesday noon through Wednesday dinner is the staff retreat.
We use a big house that the owners have dedicated to ministry so we only pay a small cleaning fee. We bond by feeding each other. Two people handle each meal, so there aren't many expenses.
My goals for the staff retreat are to celebrate our wins, learn lessons, plan ahead, pray, and to have fun together. My goals for the Board are essentially the same, but in a different order: connect over the Word, pray for each other and the church, look at wins and lessons learned.
I've written an article about how to have Board and staff retreats that includes an agenda. You can get it here: How to Use Board and Staff Retreats to Accelerate Evaluation and Growth.
This article originally appeared at pastormentor.com.
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