Summer Slump Hit Your Church Hard? Don’t Panic, Do These 3 Things Instead
Summers are notoriously tough on church attendance (and income). Ideally, you’ve done enough to prepare for the summer slump—but sometimes it just catches you off guard. Whether you’re going through a particularly rough season or you just find yourself a little ill-prepared for the summer months, here are some tips for turning the situation around.
1. Communicate with your church members
During the summer months, families just aren’t thinking about the church budget. They’re trying to find childcare for their kids while they work full time and are looking forward to getting away for a well-earned vacation.
But just because they’re missing church services doesn’t mean that you can’t keep them up to date on important church information. If the church is struggling to make its budget or meet its financial obligations, it’s critical that gets communicated. Half the time, people aren’t aware there’s a problem that needs their attention.
So don’t be afraid to send out an email giving people a heads up on recent church attendance and income.
2. Encourage recurring giving
If you feel the need to send out a somewhat urgent email about the church’s financial situation, there should be a way for them to respond to the need. Just remember that if you send them to an online payment form, you’ve probably only dealt with the immediate situation and you might run into the same problem in a month or two.
That’s why this might be the wisest time to pitch the idea of recurring giving. You’ve captured your church members’ attention with an urgent need, and you’re also providing a solution that doesn’t infringe upon their freedom. If they sign up for recurring giving, their future giving is taken care of without having to give it another thought.
3. Know where to make cuts
In worst case scenarios, you might have to cut some expenses out of the budget. This can be a difficult—but helpful—action. The first step is to recognize where you can afford to hit the pause button.
You can make adjustments to your energy usage or look at how often your air-conditioner is running, but that might not make the significant and immediate financial impact you need. It’s likely that you’ll need to look closely at ministries.
Sit down with the board and ask these questions:
- Do we have any ministries that aren’t performing well?
- Do we have overlap in what our ministries are trying to accomplish?
- Where could we be wasting money?
- Are there ministries or expenditures that we could live without for a while?
One of the positive things about finding yourself in a budget crisis is that it can force you to do what you should have done some time ago. Sometimes churches know that some ministries are a money pit, but because of the hurt feelings and hassles involved with shutting it down, it just drags on. You might find that the ministries you’re forced to cut were unnecessary anyway.
But before you make any big organizational adjustments, you might want to mention them as a possible solution in your communication with the church. If the church can intercede financially to keep ministries running, they should probably have the opportunity. When bringing this up to the church, it might be wise to avoid mentioning specific areas that could be on the chopping block—simply stating that leadership is looking for possible ways to cut the budget should suffice.
Preparation is the key
If the summer months are causing you to tighten your belt, these tips should help you get through it. But once things start getting back to normal in the fall, don’t forget that next summer is right around the corner. If you can start preparing early for the next slow down, you’ll find yourself in a much better position.
If you’re looking for ways to get yourself ready for that tricky season, download a free copy of our ebook 10 Tips to Sustain Giving during the Summer Slump.