It’s not uncommon to see a drop in church attendance during the summer months. People leave for vacations and getaways, trying to escape the heat or maybe just endure the heat in a different location. Kids are out of school and many families just get out of their usual routine.

Sometimes the choir takes a break, which changes the visual effect for the people in the pews, as well as changing the dynamic of the service.

For churches, it can mean empty pews, with the congregation spread out across the sanctuary and the pastor feeling like there’s less energy in response to the message.

So what do you do about lower numbers in the summer?

  • Some folks just can’t handle the heat. A lot of people don’t even want to leave their homes when summer starts sizzling. If your church is air conditioned, that alone can help increase your attendance. Let people know that they can escape the heat during worship. If there’s no A/C, consider holding services earlier in the summer.
  • Try using social media to stay connected with the congregation. Just reminding people that you are there can encourage attendance. It’s likely that quite a few of your congregation members are on Twitter or Facebook. Keep those in town updated and interested and keep those that are traveling in the loop.
  • Holding more events can help with summer attendance at your church. Things like picnics or cookouts are a fun way for church members and visitors to get together outside of worship. Events like those offer a fun and relaxed environment while at the same time encouraging people to attend your services.
  • Show your appreciation for those who keep coming back. Whether they are long-time members or fresh-faced visitors, make it known that they are welcome and noticed at worship. A general acknowledgement is fine, but the more personal the better.
  • It can be easy to get discouraged by empty pews, but you have to remember to be appreciative of the people who do continue to attend your church even when others aren’t. Instead of getting disheartened, see lower numbers as an opportunity to hold a different kind of service. Maybe summer is the time for a quieter, more contemplative service, or maybe it’s the perfect time to try out a more active service with elements of drama or other ideas that are unusual for your congregation.

Of course you want summer attendance at you church to be as high as possible. It would be great if everyone made it every Sunday, but you can’t focus on what you’re lacking. Instead, embrace what you have and make this the best summer ever.