When you hear the words “Surviving Summer” as a church planter, it takes on a whole new level. For regular church attenders and unchurched people the summer means check out, head to the beach, take vacations, go to the lake, etc. As a church planter or Pastor you hear “Surviving Summer” as something totally different.
You see surviving summer literally means surviving, especially when you are new church plant. You hit that first summer and things seem to be well, but people start planning vacations and church is the last thing on their mind. Giving, if they give, is gone. Volunteer, are you kidding me……if I have time I will call you and let you know - which means - not in the summer - no way am I serving. A better offer may come up……A day at the lake and an inner tube may be calling me.
How do we survive this season? As a church planter I have survived 12 going on 13 summers. It's been brutal at times. You have to hold the fort down until the fall and everyone will hopefully reengage. Are you with me?
How have I survived and kept my sanity? Here are a few things. Some obvious, others not so obvious.
1. Remember who called you
God, who called you, is faithful. Yeah I get it, token church answer, but it's the truth! I don’t want you to miss the power or the simplicity of this huge deal.
2. Start praying early in the year about creative ideas to engage your people during the summer months
I am NOT talking about more programs, but thing about what you're doing and advertise it with excitement! We are doing a series called “At The Movies” hoping to connect with unchurched people and create a buzz around town. We're bringing popcorn, coke, and candy in church.
We did NOT want to just coast and take it easy until fall. We aren't scaling down on number of services or volunteer opportunities. Yes, folks will be gone. Yes, there will be holiday weekends and the place might look empty. I want to encourage you to realize ONE massive truth. Every weekend there are people in your church who may be giving God one last chance. If you take a checked out attitude, they might leave and say nothing is happening here.
3. Plan Crowd Gathering activities
Summer is a great time to do crowd gathering things in your services. Plan baptisms, baby dedications and things of that nature that naturally require people to be here, but also things where they will want to invite their family and friends to come. Build excitement and do fun things around all of those events. Make them a celebration! It can be a great time to connect with people who may not normally come to your church.
4. Build a summer series that kicks the summer off or ends the summer.
Have fun music, maybe some fun moments in your service that are totally different than other times. Have Sunday’s where your people dress according to themes and blow up social media. Get your people to post on the social media and have a blast with it. Use Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Periscope and countless other things to create a buzz and momentum.
There are tons of other things I could say, but don’t buy into the trap that you need to stop spending, hold off on all programs and just try and survive. That thought is from the enemy who doesn’t want to see you thrive as a church. We find people giving their lives to Christ all summer long. People are willing to come and be more laid back because of the environment we have created. Have fun, be excited, and ask God to do the impossible.
Thanks for Reading,
Philip is a seasoned church planter who planted in Mississippi over ten years ago. He grew up overseas in Bangladesh and loves curry. He is passionate about global missions, soccer, and seeing people come to know Christ. Philip is now the Lead Pastor of Vision at Vertical Church with multiple locations in Mississippi.