By Jayson D. Bradley
Most of us — including pastors — like to imagine that the summer exists as a time of relaxation … a time away from our harried schedules.
Deep down, though, we know this isn’t true.
We’re actually just cramming recreational hobbies and barbecues into already bursting calendars. Parents with school-aged children are pulling their hair out to ensure that the kids have something to do during the day. They spend quite a bit of time taxiing them to camps, sports commitments and summer activities.
On top of all that, summer is the most popular time of the year for families to take trips and vacations.
Unfortunately, when families look for breathing room in their schedules, church is often the first thing they cut. Church leaders know this and respond accordingly. This back-and-forth dance is noticed and seems to encourage even more people to stay home. Enter: the summer slump.
One of the most discouraging aspects of the summer slump is that lower church attendance also tends to drive others — who perhaps aren’t on vacation — to stay home, as well. Many churches are veritable ghost towns during summer months.
Then, as soon as school starts up again, there’s a big push to get everyone focused and back on track. With that, the fiscal year seems to start in September.
Because church offerings are typically given as part of the church service, giving drops dramatically when people stop attending. The summer slump takes a huge financial toll on a church. Knowing this, churches often budget their finances according to a feast / famine calendar, enabling them to make it through the lean months by storing up resources during the busier times of the year.
There’s no question that churches experience a summer slump…
The big question is whether or not there’s anything your church can do about it — and there is. You don’t have to accept the inevitability of the summer slump.
One key way to avoid this seasonal dip in giving is to set your church up with recurring giving. I’m sure that — instead of giving weekly — many of the people in your church give larger checks once or twice a month. Maybe they even mail them in. But once they’re away on vacation, it’s easy for that kind of giving to fall through the cracks.
Getting your church set up with with a tool for recurring giving — and then training them to use it — is a game-changer. When people set up automated giving, they become more involved and interested in the life of the church.
The best part is, they don’t have to think about giving. A recurring payment system is a potent weapon in the fight against summer slumps. Once members are signed up for their giving to recur naturally, you’re that much closer to being out of the woods.
A mobile app has many benefits. First, it offers a secure way to give. Second, it allows your members to give from wherever they’re vacationing (including foreign countries). Third, it helps you stay engaged with them while they’re gone. Having your sermons, calendar, and congregational communications all bundled within the same app that people are using to give, is a genius way to get your church over the summer slump.
While recurring giving is ideal, one-time gifts are great, too. A good app makes single donations possible with a few taps. It’s the perfect solution anytime someone is interacting with your church.
It’s not so complicated. (Really.)
You might think that an app is an accessory for megachurches, and you could never afford or maintain one. But, I assure you that’s not the case!
An app is easy to manage, and completely affordable. Actually — with the increase in giving that you’re likely to see — the app can pay for itself.
As you can see, the summer slump is not inevitable. You can help fortify your congregation against the low-attendance and paltry giving that normally accompanies the summer months.
Jayson D. Bradley is a writer and pastor in Bellingham, WA. He’s a regular contributor to Relevant Magazine, and his blog — JaysonDBradley.com — has been voted one of the 25 Christian blogs you should be reading.