If you were to ask pastors how their church attendance is affected during the summer months, most would probably admit to seeing a “summer slump” that can last through Labor Day. It’s not unusual for people to be busier during the summer with camps, vacations, family time, and sleeping in just because they can. These things aren’t necessarily bad, but they
do affect people coming to church.
With school starting back up again, churches can’t count on the fact that people will automatically insert returning to church as part of their weekly routine. And, to further complicate the matter, new research shows that people are becoming increasingly less open to the idea of coming to church at all. That’s bad. Here is the silver lining: That same research also shows that people are more likely to come when they are invited…especially when they are invited by someone they know.That’s good.
The real question to ask here is –
“What can we do to bring people back to church?”
Here are four ways your church can be more intentional about inviting people back to church and how they can foster a connection with those that don’t have a church home at all:
- Back to Church Sunday. Did you know that there is actually a National Back to Church Sunday? This year, it occurs on September 18. This is a real campaign with legit sponsors. It even has its own website that helps you plan a citywide initiative for your church to invite people to church.
- Adopt a School. You may not have unlimited resources, but it doesn’t cost you a thing to pray. Think about this…what if an entire church committed to just praying for the staff and students at a particular school for an entire year? What kind of impact would continuous prayer have on a school and on the church?
- Don’t Forget the Teachers. Teachers spend so much time loving on kids that maybe the church should spend some time loving on them. Again, it doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, but a prayer, an encouraging email or letter, or a cup of coffee could go a long way in ministering to these exceptional people.
- Host a Back to School Youth and Children’s Event. The weekend after school started, one church hosted a movie night for its youth group. The youth pastor had this idea and made it into a really big deal for the students…hot dogs, hamburgers, popcorn, and a viewing of the movie “Woodlawn” with a bunch of their friends from church. The catch…each student was challenged to invite one friend who doesn’t attend church on a regular basis. They had 30 new students attend! Oh, and their numbers on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings have been steadily increasing, so I’d say maybe this youth pastor is onto something.
When you challenge your church to influence the lives of those that God has put in front of them – and you resource them to develop relationships with those that don’t have a church – you are cultivating an environment that becomes less inward and more outwardly focused.
What ideas would you add to this list?