Here are 4 ideas for beating the dreaded summer slow-down in attendance, giving, and volunteerism.
Whether your church falls into the “Average” category or not, nearly every church experiences a summer slow-down in areas like attendance, giving, and getting enough volunteer help. Given that we just completed the first official holiday weekend of this summer, I thought it appropriate to publish a few ideas that will help any church beat the summer slow-down.
Start Podcasting – Many church members will miss multiple church services during the summer months. Most of those members would benefit greatly by being able to subscribe to a sermon podcast published by the church. This is a great way for church members to stay in the loop and not miss Part (#) of (##) in the latest sermon series. Let’s face it too, if your church isn’t podcasting you are already way behind the curve. The sermon podcast is almost “old hat” at this point in time. If your church is already podcasting the sermon then you should think about getting creative and doing something out of the ordinary in the form of a podcast. How about a “Weekly Announcements” podcast? Or what about a “1 minute devotional” or “Word of encouragement” from the Pastor as a podcast? These types of podcasts are very easily created and published with today’s technology. Podcasting is really about two things. First, its about delivering a message to people in a manner that is very easy for them to get. Second, its about staying in front of your audience with regularly published content. Which leads me to idea number 2…
Set up Online Giving – If your church hasn’t enabled some form of online giving at this point, now is the time. Here’s the deal, statistically, most church members don’t give at all. Those that do, many times, need a nudge, poke, or memory jog to do so. I agree, this shouldn’t be the case but let’s face it, it is. Online giving is very easy to set up, its secure, and many church members like the idea of being able to pay their tithe online. Consider doing the following things after you set up online giving. First, make sure to announce this in your Sunday morning announcement video roll. Make it big, bold, and simple. Second, make sure that you include a link to your church’s online giving portal on every page of your church website and in every podcast that you publish. (If you don’t know how to embed a link to your online giving portal into a podcast, ask us for help). If you utilize a message-on-hold system at your church, include an announcement about online giving there as well. In each of these instances you have a captive audience. Take advantage of that.
Set up Online Community and Groups – Many churches are scared of setting up an online community but this is a great way for folks to stay in touch and stay connected with one another during the summer slow down. Whether you use something free like FaceBook, or have your Web Presence firm create something that is customized for your church, relationships and community will flourish when online community is implemented effectively. Consider this too; more and more people are embracing mobile computing and technology. The reason for this is because it makes it easier for them to stay connected to the people and things that are important to them. This includes church and the relationships that started there. To steal a line from one of my favorite movies…”If you build it, they will come.” I’ll clarify that by saying this; it must be supported from the top down and your Pastor can’t be a control freak.
Reward your volunteers – I know, I know, giving is already down. I’ve suggested that you implement podcasting, online giving, and online community and now I want you to reward your volunteers. Am I crazy? Absolutely. Reward them, they deserve it. Here are a couple of ideas that I have seen work really well. First, how about a “Volunteer of the Month” award. Sounds kooky I know, but put together a thank you package for each department in the church. Include things like an American Express gift card, a nice devotional book, and maybe some formal public recognition. Choose one volunteer from each church department and show them how much you appreciate their hard work with a care package like this. Second, solicit some prizes from local sponsors or business people in the church. Our church has given away an iPod on several occasions and you’d be amazed at how competitive people will get over a $150 item. In fact, you could make it a competition. Set some parameters for qualification and observe how people behave. You just might implement this strategy year round. Most importantly, express your sincere appreciation to every volunteer. Without them, most churches would whiter up and die.
Anyone else have any ideas for beating the summer slow-down?