Spring is around the corner and that is always comforting and uplifting to me. I enjoy spring, but I enjoy summer even more. Summer means no school, vacations and long days of sunlight; it’s a relaxed time of year for many.
Unfortunately for church business administrators, finance chairs, treasurers, pastors, staffs and church leaders, summer often times signifies the “summer swoon.” I use that term to describe what happens to church offerings once school gets out in late May or June and doesn’t pick back up until August or September. Weekly offerings go down from 10% to 50% or more in some cases during the summer months depending on the church.
I have noticed that many churches’ giving will remain strong through most of June, but July and August can prove to be challenging months for many churches as they attempt to figure out cash flow to keep the lights on and the staff paid. This is unfortunate but very common in many churches and the “summer swoon” is like many physical ailments; it does not discriminate and is preventable.
So what is the prescription to prevent the summer swoon? Talk about it. Yep, it is that simple. Begin talking about the “summer swoon” issues your church has had over the years and give them specific examples of the issues it causes with cash flow. Most churches do talk about it, but do not offer practical and easy solutions for their people to implement. Offer solutions. Most solutions are simple in concept. Some are easier to implement than others but all worth the effort. The two suggestions below are examples of each.
Solution #1. (easy to implement)
Communicate the electronic giving strategy of your church.
People do go on vacation in the summer and if they miss the Sunday they normally give the church will likely not receive that offering for that month. It doesn’t have to be that way. In today’s world people could give via their phone if they knew they could.
What are the different methods people can give electronically to your church? Can they give on line via the church website? Does your church accept automatic draft from employers? Does your church receive other forms of electronic payments?
Many church goers simply need to know that your church is set up and able to receive electronic communications. As leaders, we can’t assume they know this. You have to tell them and you have to tell them for three Sundays in a row! Contact me and I will tell you why you need to do it three Sundays in a row.
Solution #2. (requires a little more effort, but worth it)
Continue a regular flow of ministry during the summer. Don’t take the summer off!!!!!!
For whatever reason our churches have decided to take the summer off from regular ministry. I do not understand that. The excuse is that everyone goes on vacation. How many weeks do the families in your church go on vacation during the summer? By the church taking the summer off we are telling our people that worship and attendance is not as important in the summer as it is during the school year. We are giving our people an excuse to sleep in on Sundays because there doesn’t appear to be anything important going on at the church.
Plan a couple of big events in the summer. Publicize them like crazy! Let your people know that the church is not taking the summer off. Don’t stop regular programming. Continue having Wednesday night suppers. Do not combine services. Don’t give the music ministry the summer off. If you keep doing your regular thing attendance will stay up and your giving will stay up because giving is DIRECTLY related to attendance!
Your church doesn’t have a giving problem in the summer; it has an attendance problem and I would suggest that is as much on the shoulders of the church as it is the people. Try something different this summer; encourage your people to give electronically and don’t slow down your regular ministry routine. I guarantee you there will be less of a “summer swoon” or not one at all.
Let me know if I can help you plan!