For most of my life as a Chicago Cubs baseball fan I have had a problem.
My team would start off every season full of hope and expectation, only to come crashing down painfully by the end of May. In years past I would say to myself,” I guess it’s just a summer slump.”
Summer slumps affect ball teams, businesses and they certainly affect churches.
If you are a pastor, you know the signs; a decrease in attendance followed by a down turn in financial giving. Giving to the church falls off substantially beginning around Memorial Day weekend and struggles to recover until mid-September. And when the slump is in full effect, if you are not careful you can become disheartened and begin to wonder, “What is wrong?” Don’t worry. Nothing is wrong. It is a natural occurrence in church life. Over most of the 30 + years I have been a pastor, the churches I have served have all been faced with a smaller summer attendance and a seasonal financial downturn. But that doesn’t mean you have to accept it.
I am not suggesting that this summer you tell your people not to take vacations. We all need those times away for rest and retreat. What I am suggesting is that you do whatever you can to minimize the dreaded financial summer slump in your congregation. Around mid-May each year I would begin to communicate with my flock about the potentiality of a summer slump. I would start by highlighting all the ministries that continue to take place in the summer. Most active church’s programming doesn’t slowdown in the summer, rather it increases with conferences, weddings and mission trips. Just think about it. Much of your children and youth activities take place in the summer in the form of V.B.S. and camps. Each Spring I would begin to make a point of reminding the church that as the body of Christ, each of them was a needed and necessary part of a well-functioning body. Then each week as Summer approached I would repeatedly communicate that if they were unable to physically be in worship they could mail in their tithes or use the online and mobile opportunities availabilities to donate even if they were not in attendance on Sunday. I would even promote the slogan, “NO SUMMER SLUMP HERE!
I suggest you face the summer slump head on by suggesting to your people to hit the road. Encourage them to take a week or two and go visit Mickey and Minnie, go to the lake, go visit their out of town friends, go wherever and enjoy some recreational time but then I would be sure to remind them to please continue giving faithfully to their church throughout the summer.