Summer is a wonderful time when the family can get together and typically go on a vacation or two. Those are important and fun things to do, but as we spend more time away from home, we also spend less time at church. Summer months are notorious for two things: a reduction in church attendance and an increase in guest speakers. As detailed in one of our previous articles, church attendance drops by 13% in the summer.
That's not to say that going on a trip and spending time with family at the lake house are bad things. Everybody needs a vacation, and that goes for pastors too. The unfortunate reality is that it's widely believed that church is optional during summer, and with that, so is giving.
For the occasional summertime churchgoer, it may seem like the church staff is less engaged like the rest of the congregation, but those working behind the scenes know that summer is often when ministry programs focused on youth involvement and missions are at their height. As a result, the funds needed to operate church ministry are more important than ever.
While a drop in attendance is inevitable, giving does not have to go down simply because there are fewer bodies in the building on a typical summer Sunday.
Maintaining a generous church culture through these months doesn't have to be complicated. Here are four ways to encourage giving among your congregation in the summer:
1. Encourage Your Leaders to Consider the Importance of Their Presence This Summer
As we said, most people take vacations in the summer, because school is out and commitments are lower. We know that the Lord calls us to rest. However, that does not mean that every pastor and leader should go to the beach at the same time. After all, if your leaders are consistently absent on Sunday mornings, it won't be long before the congregation follows your example. Keep a good rotation of both guest and on-staff speakers who are committed to bringing quality content so that attendees to do not feel like they are being served second-best stuff in the summer months.
2. Enable Online Giving
If you haven't implemented an online giving platform, this is a must. According to Nonprofit Source, 60% of church attendees are willing to give to their church digitally. So whether through your church website or an app, allowing your attendees to schedule re-occurring giving online removes the pressure of them having to physically be at church to tithe.
3. Remind Attendees What Their Tithes Go Toward
It's common knowledge that it feels good to give, but it feels even better when you can see the impact of your donation. If your summer tithes have been going to fund free Vacation Bible School for the local community or to fund mission trips outside the area, document those outreaches for your congregation. Share videos or stories with the congregation about the impact of these ministries and close the loop for the congregant on the effectiveness of their tithe.
4. Send Thank You Notes
Whether it's through phone calls or cards sent in the mail, personalized thank-you notes to those giving in the church is the easiest way to begin to create a culture of giving. It also reminds our congregants that their generosity is seen and is making a difference. Your congregation does not want to feel dispensable, so make sure to show authentic appreciation for their presence and their giving.
The summer Sunday slumps do not have to affect giving negatively. By incorporating these strategies, you show your congregation that you care, and they are in turn inspired to keep up their giving throughout these months.
Trent Dunham is president of Dunham+Company, which consults with churches and nonprofits on their fundraising and marketing needs.
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