Home Pastors 3 Reminders for Pastors During the Summer Slump

3 Reminders for Pastors During the Summer Slump

Pastors Summer Slump

As a song that has for decades been blasted through car stereos this time of year has said, “School’s out for summer.” For students, this is great news. Parents tend to have mixed feelings. But for pastors, it often portends the dreaded summer slump.

Every summer, churches around the nation struggle to keep their people engaged, as attendance—sometimes alongside giving—takes a temporary hit. 

Families go on vacation. College students go back to their hometowns. Volunteers are difficult to come by. Energy is down. The beach, the pool, or the cookout seem to take precedence. 

While most wise pastors take advantage of the slow season to catch up on various administrative tasks and use a week or more of their vacation time to connect with their families, they often spend the other 10 to 12 weeks of summer wondering where everybody went. 

That can be discouraging. No ministry leader enjoys the summer slump—particularly not the pastor who is preaching to a half-full room.

Be that as it may, no pastor wants to spend the summer months with a storm cloud above his head. And the thing is that you don’t have to, nor should you. 

Here are three reminders for pastors as you navigate the summer slump of church attendance and engagement.

1. Remember That Numbers Don’t Define Success.

It has been said many times and in many ways—and, somewhat ironically, perhaps most often at conferences by preachers whose churches are exponentially larger than yours—your numbers do not constitute the sum total of ministry success for you or your church. 

And, of course, every pastor and church leader believes that ministry effectiveness isn’t defined by last week’s attendance numbers. That is, until the numbers are down. Then we seem to quickly forget that fact and fly into a fit of anxiety.

The truth of the matter is that when attendance numbers are high, it makes us feel good. And when the numbers are down, it makes us feel poorly. And that’s okay. There’s no shame in that. Pastors, we just need to ensure that we are not attaching those feelings to our identities or being motivated by them in an unhealthy way.

2. Don’t Take It Personally That Your People Went on Vacation.

Sometimes, when attendance numbers are down and volunteers are difficult to come by, pastors and ministry leaders can begin to grow resentful toward their own people. We tend to wonder, and sometimes unfortunately even verbalize, “Don’t they understand that what we’re doing is important?”