The summer slump—when the presence of sunshine and warm weather cause generosity to decline. We see it every year in churches across the United States.
Okay, sunshine and warm weather may not be the direct cause of decreased generosity, but the summer months are notorious among church leaders. Generally during these months churches see lower attendance, lower involvement, and lower giving among members. It seems as if many in the congregation just check out for the season.
So, what can church leaders do? Should you assume that such a season is just part of church life? Should you just plan to wait it out, anticipate a tight summer budget, and prepare for the fall?
While adjusting expenses and planning for the fall are both wise moves, church leaders can leverage the spring months to continue to build generous disciples during the summer months. The right efforts will lend to building generous disciples who put God first in their finances, even during warm weather. Remember, a downturn in generosity is not just a budget issue. It is a symptom of an underlying discipleship issue.
To help your church avoid the slump, here are a few steps you, as a church leader, can use to prepare for this summer:
1. Understand your summer trends.
Most church leaders recognize that giving generally tends to drop during the summer months, but how and when the decrease occurs tends to be less certain.
The first step to addressing any problem is to understand the reality of that problem. Review the past three years’ numbers and use that information to map out anticipated giving for the summer months.
2. Identify which giving segments struggle most during summer.
Among what group is there a greater likelihood of decreased giving? Is it those who give under $1,000 per year? Is it young adults with children?
There is a possibility that the summer slump is more prevalent among some groups than others. Determining which groups experience a greater slump than others can help church leaders be more precise with their communication and encouragement.
3. Develop a communication plan for the late spring and summer months.
The summer giving slump is often the result of forgetfulness. For many members, the church service is the primary place where they are reminded about the importance of generosity. And when attendance becomes more sporadic, so does their giving.
Develop a creative communication plan that regularly reminds members to be stewards that put Christ first in their finances, even while on vacation. Through email and videos, encourage the adoption of generosity tools, like scheduled giving, through your online platform.
And, if you need help crafting a communication plan for this spring and summer, email us at email@example.com. We have tons of great resources to help you whether you’re creating a new communication plan or need some help sprucing up existing communication.
4. Celebrate the impact of generosity throughout the summer.
As part of your communication plan, keep the impact of individuals’ giving in front of your church members. Share how God is using the church to reach the lost, feed the hungry, and advance God’s Kingdom during the summer months.
Remind them that, even while they are away, God is using their local church. Through video, emails, and social media, regularly connect their giving to Kingdom impact.
Approach this summer differently. Understand your trends and the people who struggle during the summer. Then, get a communication plan together. Regularly remind members to put Jesus first even during the summer months. Committing and executing these four steps will build generous disciples in your church, even during the summer slump.