Summer is a fun time of year. The warmer weather is a welcome change from the cooler, rainy spring. School’s out and there’s a general buzz of excitement and adventure in the air.
While summer is a great season, it can be challenging for a church to keep those butts in the pews on a weekly basis. As the activities kick off, summer camps fire up, and everyone packs up their kids to head off to Disneyland, it’s not uncommon to see attendance, involvement, and even tithing drop.
The question is, what can you do to keep people engaged throughout the busy summer months?
Here are four simple steps to surround your ministry with a healthy level of enthusiasm and interest throughout the busy summer months.
If you can commit to all four steps together, you’re likely to see a synergistic effect that will have much better results than any one of these ideas on their own.
Step 1. Create a welcoming environment outside of Sunday morning
Think about it—during the fall the days are getting shorter, people are preparing for winter, and a feeling of impending hibernation is in the air (especially if you live in the northern U.S. or Canada). Shortly after that, the holidays show up, followed by the dark, reclusive winter months. When spring finally rolls around, everyone is up to their eyeballs in yard work as they fight to slip in enough landscaping and winter clean up in between the rainy weekends.
My point? Summer is the perfect time to reach out and engage with your community outside of the four walls of your church building from precisely 10:00 to 11:30 each Sunday morning.
The warmer weather has everyone out and about. The longer days allow for events and other outreach efforts to be planned after work in the evenings.
When it comes to outreach efforts themselves, there are tons of different options out there for churches great and small to use in order to tap into their local communities.
A few good ones that naturally come to mind are:
- A summer concert hosted by your church.
- A mini-carnival for kids.
- A VBS program.
- An outdoor movie night.
- Hosting a sports camp, tournament, or mini-league.
- Creating a “cool spot” for families to go on hot days.
- Collecting donations for the local food shelter.
- Setting up a free car wash in your church’s parking lot.
I could keep going, but you get the idea.
The best part about many of these is that they involve your church members and impact your community, keeping both your congregation and your home town engaged at the same time. It’s a win-win scenario.
Gather your ministry team and go over your resources, time, and manpower and then see what options work for you. Once you’ve got an event (or two or three) picked out, it’s time to move to the next step.
Step 2. Communicate your event clearly
The next few steps are pretty important for any successful event these days. Many of them are simple, but they can be a little bit time-consuming. Make sure to schedule each event to maximize the effectiveness of every promotional opportunity you have available.
First up, you’re going to want to set yourself up for success right out of the gate by branding each event in every way possible. I’m not just talking about slapping a church logo onto things, either—although that doesn’t hurt. Try to make sure that every time something is promoted, it’s obvious what the event is and what organization is behind it.
Start by coming up with a clear name. Next, consider creating a series of graphics that have a similar feel to each other but are sized and worded for various promotional outlets (e.g. social media, your website, your church’s overhead presentation, etc.)
I recently wrote an article all about creating amazing free church graphics. If you don’t already have a system for this, you should check it out!
Step 3) Promote the event
The next thing you’re going to want to do is to promote the event across all of your marketing channels. Obviously, talk it up in church, but also make sure to create a Facebook event and post updates on it regularly. Try to use platforms like Twitter and Instagram to create a buzz. If you have a marketing budget, consider using things like Google Ads or Facebook Ads targeted at your local community.
Make sure to always point your promotions towards your church’s website (which should have a page set up with information on the event as well).
If you’ve read any of my stuff before, you’re probably already aware that one of my biggest mantras is treating your website as the “hub” of your operations. That gives you an easy, central location to unify your marketing and make updates and changes simple and easy.
Step 4) Engage people once they get to your website
Finally, make sure to do more than just post information on your site. Have a way for people to engage with you once they get there.
This can be by encouraging them to sign up for your email or texting lists, asking them to fill out a form to “book a spot” at the event, or having them purchase a ticket. The specifics will vary depending on the nature of the event, but you want a way to maintain a connection with them both leading up to the event as well as into the future.
Creating an engaging atmosphere this summer
And there you have it. Four simple steps that, when put together, can be the perfect formula to keep your congregation involved and your community engaged this summer.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a small-town rural church, a mega-church in the ‘burbs, or anything in between, all you need to do is find an event that works for you, lay your plans wisely, and then put it into action.
So what are you waiting for? Call that first meeting and get things going while the summer is still young!