The Summer Slump

Joe Smith, pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church (Lakewood, WA), recently blogged about one common approach to dealing with drops in attendance and giving in local congregations during the summer months: sending a “summer slump letter” (a letter sent to members encouraging them to keep their giving regular during the summer months).  This unhelpful and unhealthy approach “corrodes community” and reaches the wrong audience, since those who are most active are most likely to read the letter and be in worship to hear announcements about it.

So What?
Almost all congregations experience seasonal variations in worship attendance and giving.  Rather than try to artificially manufacture more giving and attending, Joe Smith recommends using low seasons as opportunities to build bridges.

  • What would your response be to receiving a “summer slump letter”?
  • In your congregation, which months are the “low” months in terms of both giving an attendance?
  • How does your congregation leverage your budget and spending policies account for these seasonal variances? How does your congregation communicate them as normative and cyclical rather than unexpected and worrisome?
  • What are some actionable opportunities for bridge building that would work best during the low months?

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