The summer break can lead to “summer church.” Vacations and other activities don’t have to mean lower expectations for attendance and involvement.
Connect. Staying in touch requires carrying out those plans before summer actually starts.
The church website and Facebook page can help those traveling. Streamed worship services, podcasts for download, online event registration, and reminders to pray for those involved in missions are other options.
Small groups can be a key to maintaining relationships. Sharing class photographs as prayer reminders or sitting together during worship can help.
Children’s teachers can plan events such as picnics or the park for their class. Children’s Ministry Magazine suggests distributing a summer calendar with dates highlighted for them to share something (“favorite summertime food”) by phone or email that can also be used to remind them of upcoming events.
Another idea is to share a Flat Stanley or stuffed mascot with a journal or disposable camera that can be sent with children to share trip memories. Church-wide, try compiling a summer memories ebook free at Lulu.com, which can also be printed for a small fee.
Stay spiritually active. Encourage believers to exercise their faith. Offer a weekly Bible study for all ages, or encourage reading and discussing a short book. Send church leaders to conferences or purchase access to key digital sessions.
Let people give. Brad Locke, steward of eGive in Ellisville, Mo., believes it is good to remind people that, despite summer reductions in both church attendance and offerings, “the church must still pay the staff, building mortgage and repairs, operating expenses and higher than normal utility and repair bills related to air conditioning.”
Locke suggests a “Don’t Let Your Offering Go on Vacation!” campaign to remind members of the ongoing needs. Electronic giving options such as eGive allow giving while on vacation.
RSI Stewardship’s free download, “27 Ways to Stop the Yo-Yo Effect On Your Summer Giving” (www.tinyurl.com/MATI-summer), provides creative ideas.
Try something new. Many families move during this time and are looking for a new church home. Take the opportunity to experiment — hosting block parties, providing community movie nights (check licenses at cvli.com), combining activities with another church or ministering in the community on a Sunday.
Add interest by sharing pictures from participants with services such as Picasa or Flikr. Other options are “Collect photos from your event” by Album+ LLC, which turns “any TV into a live streaming photo booth” and adds a logo or twitter handle to photos; and Capsule (trycapsule.com), originally designed for weddings.
If you plan an area-wide activity, always have a Plan B in case of weather. Scott Vaughan of Scott Vaughan Communications warns that “canceling events and activities can become an easy practice with negative long-term impact” for community involvement.
At the same time, activities encourage traction, he says.
Use the season as an opportunity to find new traditions, fresh means to stay in touch and novel ways to reach out to the community.
Ken Satterfield is advertising and marketing coordinator for Word&Way.