Summer attendance at church got you down?  As ministers, it can be discouraging to watch your numbers in the summer go down and fluctuate wildly based on family vacations and holiday weekends.  Plus, if you actually enjoy your job, you miss the interaction with kids and their families and genuinely care about what is going on in their lives.

The tendency can be to kinda sit back and ride out the summer months, focusing on “when school starts again” and the kids come back (woohoo!). But, I’ve learned that these smaller populated months can actually be a tremendous blessing in disguise. Here are a few ideas on how you can use the summer months to grow your ministry, regardless of what the numbers report.

1. Focus on Volunteers – Like your kids, your volunteers will also likely be going on vacation or missing Sundays. In the past, I’ve scrambled to find subs to fill vacant positions weekly as volunteers texted me the night before to say they’d be gone.  But this year, our Family Ministry Council sent letters to each volunteer, thanking them for their year-long commitment, and offering them the summer off. In that same letter, we asked them to let us know when they would be on vacation and if they needed us to find a sub.  The response was overwhelmingly positive – no one took the offered summer off and most offered to cover for others if needed.  We were able to put a 3 month schedule together with a sub list for emergencies out to each volunteer before June started and as a result, our rooms have been covered with little to no absences.  Plus, the volunteers know that they are appreciated and their family life is taken into consideration as they serve.

2. Focus on Families – One of the main things that pull kids away in the summer is “spending time with family.”  So why not create space for families to spend time together…at church?  This year our church hosted a Family VBS where families attended together (parents/caregivers stayed with the kids).  Our attendance was higher than our “normal” VBS and our families were excited to be together.  Other ideas might be Day Trips to water parks, zoos, parks, etc. or even just hosting a fun morning at church.  A picnic or potluck would be a fun way to make space for families to be together and could be “outside the weekend box.”

3. Focus on Kids – Even if your attendance is sporadic or low, it’s usually not obsolete.  If you have fewer kids, you have the opportunity to spend more time focusing on them.  Take advantage of that moment and really capitalize on that one-on-one time you may not get during the school year.  Recognizing that summer attendance might look different than the normal year, consider switching up your curriculum or normal routine for the summer to one that is less dependent on regular attendance and more fluid with the summer ebb-and-flow.  Since you have to be there each Sunday, you might find that you have a better chance to actually connect with the kids that do come as compared to when your numbers are higher.

This summer I’ve watched our Sunday numbers go all over the place and that can be disheartening.  But I’ve also seen participation of families in a number of “outside-the-box” events, spent some quality time with some kiddos I don’t normally get to interact with, and seen my volunteers grow together as a team as they support one another all summer long.  Summer can be a time for great growth opportunity, even if the numbers don’t seem to show that trend.

What are some ways you utilize the summer months at your church?

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Christina is wife of Pastor Luke and mom to Hannah, Naomi, and Caleb. She has been serving in ministry since 2010, first as a director of children's ministry and now as a family minister near Lexington, KY. She is passionate about helping churches transition into family ministry and equipping parents for discipleship in the home. She is currently completing studies at Wesley Seminary at IWU for a Master's degree in ministry with a focus on children, youth and family, with the desire to help churches grow their family ministries.

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