Friday, July 15, 2016

Are you ready for fall?

The summer is often a slow time for many churches. Some disband their choirs for the summer. Others cancel small groups or evening services. The thinking is that with many schools shortening their summer vacation many families will attempt to take theirs in that short window of opportunity.

This makes summer a great time for church leadership to begin planning for the upcoming fall and winter. As people begin to return to their normal routines once school resumes it's important for the church to hit the ground running.

In his excellent book, Ignite: How to Spark Immediate Growth in Your Church, Nelson Searcy recommends having several "Big Days" in your church to spark growth. He defines a Big Day as "an all-out push toward a single Sunday for the purpose of breaking the next growth barrier and setting an attendance record in order to reach as many people as possible for Jesus."

One of the times he suggests for a Big Day is approximately one month after school resumes. People are often trying to get back in their regular routines when school starts, and this can take a few weeks. Most schools now start before Labor Day, and families often take trips on that last holiday that seems to signal the end of summer. Five to six weeks after school begins is a good time to schedule a Big Day. As he does in all his books, Searcy does a great job of leading the reader though the process of developing a Big Day that will help grow your church.

Summer is also a good time to develop your preaching schedule for the remainder of the year, if you haven't already done so. Your worship team should be making their worship plans including any special services for the holidays. Summer is also a great time to develop a stewardship emphasis that will help support the next year's budget. I worked with one church a few years ago that had a series of stewardship events in the fall leading up to a special service that challenged each family to pledge their giving for the upcoming year. It was their first time to do this, and it significantly increased their giving. In fact, it was so successful that the church agreed to do it the following year as well.

Summer is a great time for pastors and other church leaders to spend extra time with their families and to relax. I encourage every pastor I work with to do that. But, it's also a great time to plan ahead so when things begin to pick up in the fall the pastor and church will be ready.

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