Seasons of ministry.
In addition to campaigns, it is helpful to know the seasonal cycle of your ministry.
This varies from place to place. In a military town, attendance can fluctuate a great deal with deployments. In a college town, the summers usually see a major plummet in attendance. In a place like Phoenix, where people flee during the hottest months, the same can be true.
In places like Seattle and Alaska where the winters can be long and dark, people tend to be out and about a lot during the summer enjoying the good weather. Conversely, in places like Southern California where the weather is nice year-round, it is possible for a church to actually grow during the summer.
No seasonal rhythm is set in stone, but the following has been my experience at Mars Hill.
For most of our churches, we have two major harvest seasons. The first is in the fall, from Labor Day through Thanksgiving. Summer vacations are over, the rainy season starts, schools are back in session, new people have moved into the area, and our attendance swells. At this time, we start a new sermon series (this year at Mars Hill, it will be the Ten Commandments), all of our ministries kick into high gear (especially our Community Groups), and it is imperative that everything launch strongly for the sake of momentum.
For our church, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is a bit flat. Some churches are Christmas churches, and others are Easter churches.
Our biggest day of the year by far is always Easter, never Christmas. We have so many singles, college students and newly married couples without kids that they tend to leave town to visit family during the holidays. We also have a lot of first generation Christians who didn’t grow up with the tradition of going to church on Christmas.
So for us, the holidays are a time to have a lot of parties for our people to love and enjoy one another.
During this time, I do a shorter series called God’s Work, Our Witness where I recap what God has done the prior year and what we are calling our people to for the upcoming year. The series includes a financial year-end push to make budget and end the year strong. We generally shut down the office for the week after Christmas and catch our breath.
The big harvest culminates on Easter.