Summer Slump Ideas for Growth
Here’s some great ideas to help you stay out of the ‘summer sump’ and on the path to steady growth and revival.
10 out of 13
This idea will encourage Sunday School attendance through the summer months. The whole concept is to at tend ten of the thirteen Sundays and be a part of supporting your church during the summer months.
A 3 x 5 card with a title “10 out of 13” is distributed throughout the Sunday School classes and/or the main auditorium at the beginning of the summer months. It reads as follows:
10 out of 13
“In an effort to keep our Bible teaching program on a high
plane in attendance and efficiency this summer, I promise,
God helping me, to be present at least ten Sundays out of
thirteen for the summer period at the _____________________
(name of your church)
This has helped many churches in attendance through the summer.
The Summer for the Savior
When Dr. L. L. Morriss was pastor of First Baptist Church, Midland, Texas, he sent a personal letter to each member. The letter was as follows:
Here is your “Summer for the Savior” record card. Help make the summer the most spiritual time of your life. You will experience real pleasure in keeping your own record. Thank you for your loyalty during the summer months.
L. L. Morriss
Enclosed in the letter was a card folded in half that has on the inside fold a place to keep a record of the individual’s attendance in Sunday School, morning worship, evening worship, Wednesday night services, and other activities for all three months—June, July, August. A little box is provided for each week of the month for the various services. The card easily fits within an individual’s Bible. The member places a checkmark in the box corresponding to the service he/she attended.
At the close of the summer, Bible bookmarks made of rib bon with the church’s name and the services the person at tended are presented. The ribbons are of various colors to indicate where the person was perfect in attendance.
This method of the “Summer for the Savior” attendance program was created by Bill Bumpas, minister of activities at the time. The Scripture theme for the emphasis was: “Re member the Sabbath day to keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8).
At the bottom of the card was a place for a person to sign their name and address.
This method, according to Bill, of each individual keeping their own record motivated weekly the people to attend all the services which gave an over-all emphasis of higher attendance according to the record.
You’ve heard the expression, “going ninety to nothing.” Of course, it means going as fast as you possibly can using all the effort you possibly can to hit the maximum you possibly can.
Sometimes churches decline in enrollment. Consequently this affects the attendance and all other facets of a church. Windy Rich of Nashville created the idea while at Temple Baptist Church and called it “Project Ninety”
Instead of accepting the ninety days of the summer months as a downhill, slack period, the trend was reversed:
90 days of work
90 workers to go
90 church members enrolled
90 prospects discovered
It sounds like a “one-a-day” workout to solve a problem. The results of the effort were worth the effort. Members were enrolled, prospects were found, attendance was in creased, and baptisms resulted.
Keeping a Jump Ahead
Louis Bratton, Jr of Highland Baptist Church in Florence, Alabama used a “jumping frog” for the logo of the fourteen-week summer emphasis. On kickoff Sunday, the pastor led in the main auditorium by signing the first commitment card which indicated, “I will be faithful for ten of the fourteen Sundays.” The first Sunday 395 people signed cards. In two weeks, the number “jumped” to 588. Not Only was it a commitment to attend but to find prospects, to make contacts, and to do visitation.
People were encouraged if they went on vacation to visit a nearby church and to bring back a bulletin or some type of note indicating they had been present in attendance some where in the house of the Lord.
Many promotional signs were used throughout the building in various classes and departments. A high attendance was planned for the last Sunday of the summer with a strong emphasis being made for every class member contacted to be present. The delightful result was 103 more in attendance than the last year.
The overall average was over 53 higher than the previous year. All things did “jump” with the emphasis.
Contest of 100’s
Bill Tharpe, minister of education of First Baptist Church, Pearland, Texas, gives the following idea to avoid the “summer slump.”
1. Purpose of the contest: To avoid the summer slump and to motivate the team of teachers to continue visiting prospects and members for the thirteen weeks of sum mer.
2. Focus group of participants: Sunday School directors, teachers, and workers.
3. How it worked:
• It was a contest. . . and publicized as such.
• Each worker was asked to fill out a card on each Sun day morning, summarizing their outreach activities the previous week.
• On the card 100 points were awarded for each of the seven important outreach activities.
• The department director would total the “scores” on the card from his team of workers and send a summary card to the church office with the regular Sun day School records.
• The accumulated total was printed weekly in the newsletter (the church mail out to the home).
• The winning departments in “early” Sunday School and “late” Sunday School were recognized in the morning service following the end of the contest (the church has dual Sunday Schools).
• A banner was awarded to the winning department to display in their room.
The Perfect Summer in Sunday School
“The Contest of 100’s”
Weekly Score Card
THIS SCORE CARD IS TO BE FILLED OUT WEEKLY BY
THE DEPARTMENT DIRECTOR OR DEPARTMENT
SECRETARY AND TURNED IN WITH RECORDS ON
Please add 100 points for:
— 1. Each new member enrolled in Sunday School _____ 2. Each worker who takes someone (other worker or
class member) with them on an outreach opportunity (visitation)
______ 3. Each personal visit made to a prospect
______ 4. Each worker participating in a weekly “out reach opportunity (visitation)
_____ 5. Each time a department has 40 percent of its enrollment in attendance on Sunday
_____ 6. Each department and/or class which contacts its entire enrollment during the week
_____ 7. Each time a department has every worker in attendance during the Sunday session
________ total points
Bill indicated that the summer over the previous year was an increase in attendance of 257. He attributed it to the fact the contacts were 1,523 more than the previous sum mer.
New members had not increased as he had hoped since they showed a gain of only nine. However; as he indicated, with the tremendous “exodus” in Texas during that period of time because of the oil crisis, this may have been a tremendous gain.
At the beginning of the summer two huge thermometers are made standing side-by-side (use a 4 x 8-foot sheet of celotex or masonite standing on end as the backdrop for two thermometers.) The thermometer on the left represents the total attendance for last summer, and the thermometer on the right represents the thirteen Sundays of the current summer.
Each week, both thermometers are increased according to the total Sunday School attendance of the weeks added together (that is the first three weeks each Sunday’s attendance is added to give the total). The thermometers are constructed with red and white ribbon about two inches wide. They are taped together and slipped through two slots on the thermometer at the bottom and the top so they can be moved up each Sunday to show the new total. Each thermometer has thirteen marks on it to represent the weeks.
On the left-hand thermometer; the numbers can be put in ahead of time since last year’s record has already been achieved. For example, first Sunday, 150 in attendance; next Sunday, 165; but the total would read 315, and so on at the top of the thermometer. At the top of the thermometer, whatever the total attendance was for all thirteen weeks last year; write the number. For example, it may be 1,869 for the thirteen weeks.
On the right-hand thermometer the thirteen marks are placed on the thermometer. Each week a new total is added, using a magic marker or some other instrument to draw the numbers. At the top of the thermometer, the goal was set at the beginning to try and reach more people in attendance than the previous year. For example, the goal for the summer may be 2,000 since the previous summer was 1,869.
During the summer months high emphases are made on attendance, visitation, contacting new members, and prospecting. A number of ideas can be used such as the 10 out of 13 week’s attendance campaign.
Following are testimonies from two churches which used this idea—one a large church and the other a smaller church. In Salem Baptist Church, Salem, Virginia, Dr B. Conrad Johnston used the idea with special emphasis on Constant Contact Consciousness during the entire effort. That is, four different types of contacts—telephone, post card, seeing someone on the street, or door knocking were encouraged during the summer months.
Their desire was to reach four thousand in attendance by the end of the summer in the thirteen-week period. They were well on their way—in fact ahead—until the hurricane hit one weekend. “The bottom fell out” in attendance that Sunday, which is understandable. The church also lost its Sunday School director at the beginning of the campaign, and a number of faithful families were transferred out of the community. In spite of that, deleting the one hurricane Sunday, they averaged far beyond anything they’d ever done before.
Let’s go to the other side of the country to the Foot Hills Baptist church in Las Vegas Nevada where Hoyte Savage is pastor. He used the same concept with the title, “Conquering the summer for Christ,” (Rom. 8:37). They have a small Sunday School averaging 35 in attendance. The previous summer they had averaged only 28 per Sunday in attendance. A goal was set to have 500 at the close of the thirteen-week period. This seems like a very ambitious goal for such a small Sunday School. However when the summer was over, they had a total attendance of 629 with an average attendance of 48 per week.
The Hare and the Tortoise
Ed Stephens Sunday School director for Grace Baptist Church, Warren, Ohio, shares this humorous age-old story idea, Most of us know the figure 20/80, that is, 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work while 80 percent of the people do nothing. The secret he worked on was trying to involve more people both inside and outside of his church.
Two wires were strung across the front of the auditorium. On one, a replica of a hare was attached with a simple clothespin, and a replica of a tortoise was hung on the other wire. The church was divided into two groups—the hares and the tortoises. Each week, the winner would receive some type of recognition. Preschool through twelfth grade was one group, and all the adults were in the other group.
At the end of the weeks of emphasis, the losers put on a dinner for the winners, and a “muppet” show was done by the winners (it’s easy to see the youth beat the adults). Ed says that two years following the emphasis, people are still talking of the great time and effect it had. People were invited who had not been there before. They had a total of 106 visitors during the emphasis. A number of these people accepted Christ and joined the church in the days that followed. This left people in a receptive mood in attendance and more evangelistic ideas were used. The activities brought the congregation closer together, showing people that Christians can have a good time.
Purpose: Raise Sunday School attendance during “The annual summer slump.”
Reason: At First Baptist Church, Powell Tennessee the Sunday School attendance throughout the year was about 255. When June would arrive, the bottom dropped out to 210 and stayed like that until school started.
Theme: Twelve signs were placed at strategic locations in halls and on doors. The words on the signs were, “THE BEST EVER.” The first Sunday of June, the attendance was 215 (fairly traditional). A large poster was placed in the auditorium in the shape of a volcano with a red thermometer-like drawing indicating the thermometer went down into the crater of the volcano. To each side of the volcano were the dates of each of the Sundays with a column for attendance and another column for contacts. Announcements were made on the opening Sunday about the desires for the entire summer. The goal, obviously, was to have lava flowing constantly over the top. This was done through contacting. Classes were graded as to active, intermittently active, and dormant, according to the number of contacts they would make. After the initial announcement of the volcano project, the following Sunday the attendance was 230 with 97 contacts. The next Sunday was 233 in attendance with 293 contacts; the third Sun day the attendance was 240 with 310 contacts; the fourth Sunday, 283 with 249 contacts; the fifth Sunday, 301 with 324 contacts. The summer ended with an average of 257 in attendance, whereas the previous year the average attendance had been 215. Two people were baptized, and twelve others joined the church.
Pastor David Patton created the idea.
Super Summer Softball
Generally speaking, summer months are looked on as a period when attendance is going to drop. Therefore an attitude of “so we’ll just endure it” prevails. This attitude is compounded when the church is pastorless. Many members just give up. However this was not the case with Bill Crider who is minister of education at First Baptist Church of Hattiesburg Mississippi.
The major emphasis was during the months of June, July, and August. At the close of each month a churchwide fellowship on Sunday night and a “seventh-inning-stretch luncheon” for the two top teams of the league were held. To cap off the month of August there were “playoffs.” Au gust 28 was “World Series Day” (high attendance). Base ball uniforms were secured and worn by the four general officers during the “seventh-inning-stretch luncheon” of hotdogs, popcorn, and cokes. Announcements were given in the main auditorium by different people wearing the baseball “garb.” Because of special emphases like the above, the fifteen months of “interim blues” were not experienced. Instead, because of the big push throughout the year especially the summer the attendance was better than the two previous years. It was jokingly said, “Maybe we do not need a pastor, instead let us find several more outreach directors.” However, when the new pastor arrived, there was no slack to be picked up and things have increased again be cause of his leadership.
The following idea has many flexibilities. It can be used during the summer months. It can be used as a project for the entire year or it can be used during the fall quarter whatever the church decides. The idea can be enlarged, or it can be reduced depending on the size of the church.
There are seventeen different categories given for the reach-out emphasis, they are as follows:
Shade Tree Sunday School: Bible study for apartment dwellers. Secure permission to use a community room of an apartment complex or someone’s apartment. Invite children, youth, and adults to attend on Sunday mornings. After six months attempt to transfer the class or classes to the regular church location.
Child/reach: Children wear a lapel button that says, “Mom, can I go to Sunday School at ______________Church?” Church kids give their unchurched friends the lapel buttons to wear. The church parents follow through with parents of unchurched children, giving them an invitation to their class.
Sunday Afternoon Outreach: Visit guests who attended the church (AM) that afternoon. Assignments are made in the conference room after the morning service.
Sunday Lunch Reach Out: Volunteers come to the conference room after morning worship to meet guests and invite them to lunch (at home or to a restaurant).
Entertainment Outreach: Couples or singles invite prospects to their home (or restaurant) for dinner. Cultivate in formal friendship.
Continuing Witnessing Training Thirteen weeks of intensive training on how to share your faith and lead some one to Christ. Meets each Monday evening from 6:30 until 9:00 for study and outreach visitation. Requires memorization (Scripture and model outline), plus a prayer partner.
Partners in Prayer: An organized intercessory prayer ministry. Attend a prayer seminar as a beginning point.
Touch Team: Come to the church once-a-week to read the local newspapers for “people needs.” Write notes and letters of congratulation, sympathy, prayerful concern, and so forth. Plants seeds for future ministry.
Morning Reach Out: A weekly time to pray, fellowship, and make outreach visits for shift workers, retirees, ladies who do not work outside their home, and so forth.
Encourager Ministry: Help a new Christian during his! her first few weeks in the faith. Shepherd a new believer.
The Bible Blitz: Deliver free marked New Testaments door-to-door on three or four given Sunday afternoons.
Sunday School Enrollment Blitz. Visit First Baptist Church prospects and encourage them to join the Sunday School. Can be done any time, anywhere people agree to enroll. Follow-up is done by the Sunday School teacher.
Week Day Bible Study: Preset Bible study on the Sermon on The Mount is offered on Thursdays. Other options are possible as interest of leadership increases.
Jail Ministry Witnessing: Sharing your faith with prisoners in the local county jails presently is done on Sunday.
Neighborhood Reach Out: Meet in area homes two to three times a year on a week-day evening. Receive assignments, make visits to prospects in the area, and return for sharing. Save time and gas. Create fellowships useful in newcomer outreach.
Youth Outreach: Various options to contact young people for the church open to youth and adults.
Single Adult Bible Study: A means to involve unenlisted singles in the ministry of the church. Another week-day Bible study opportunity. Enhances fellowship as well.
The above seventeen ideas have worked most effectively for Charles Kuby, who is minister of education/administration at First Baptist Church in Decatur Alabama.
Save Our Summer
Obviously this is another SOS idea, but using different words. Ernie Cecil of Glenwood Baptist Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma, has used this idea effectively. The signup begins the last week of May and the first week of June through every youth, adult, and children’s department. Enough spaces are created on the sign-up sheet for every member in the class. The title of the sheet is, “I’m helping to Save Our Summer. At the bottom of the sheet the person signs the statement: “I plan to be here for Sunday School every Sun day that I’m in town.” The goals for each class are as follows:
1. Each Sunday School department will average one more person than the year before.
2. Each department will have two people sign up who will be present on visitation night.
3. Every Sunday School member and visitor will make a commitment to be present for Sunday School every Sunday they are in town during the entire emphasis.
4. Each Sunday School member will be asked to send one card each week to an absentee.
5. All contacters are given SOS pens for their efforts in contacting people.
6. During the sign-up campaign all workers and those who have signed will wear stickers saying, “I’m helping save our summer.”
7. During one of the months of the emphasis, a contest is held between two groups of Sunday School members divided equally—one led by the pastor and the other led by the minister of youth. In larger churches, this could be the pastor and minister of education, or in smaller churches, this could be the Sunday School director and the pastor. At the end of the month’s contest, the winners ate steak and were served by the losers. Another added idea was that the losing leader each Sunday had to SOS (shine the winner’s shoes).
8. The SOS was concluded with a high attendance day the last Sunday of August. The emphasis used was: “Be one of the bunch.”
Awards were given in the following areas of emphasis:
Most contacts by department Most contacts by an individual
Highest attendance for a department
Highest total percentage in attendance during the campaign
Department with the highest number of members present
The department with the highest number of people making contacts
Department with the most new members Department with the most visitors
Department with the most present at Worker’s Meeting
Department with the most training awards
Best overall Sunday School department
The highest attendance for a department
The Scripture used for the emphasis was Proverbs 10:5,
“He that gathereth in the summer is a wise son.”
This idea came from Laura Garnet director of third and fourth graders at First Baptist Church, Eldorado, Arkansas. She found this to be very effective. She entitled the emphasis: “Perfect Attendance Chart.”
Third and fourth graders work very well when competition with one another is involved. Also, they are encouraged by one another at school for attendance in Sunday School as they see each other.
Record perfect attendance monthly. On the beginning Sunday of a new month, the director announces the children who have had perfect attendance for the previous month. At this time, they receive a scratch-and-sniff sticker of their choice. The attendance chart is an 8½ by 11-inch piece of construction paper that has the names written on to post in the Sunday School Department room.
Teachers also send cards of congratulations to children for their perfect attendance. As children attend each week, they are given a scratch-and-sniff sticker to place by their names.
Presently, Laura is working out a system for those children who come from single-parent homes and can only come 50 percent of the time to church. At the present time, she has 22 enrolled in her third and fourth grade department with an average attendance of fifteen.
Author’s note: The Scripture that comes to mind, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).
Turn on the Green Light
Dr Mark Hall, assistant pastor of Plainview Baptist Church Tulsa; Oklahoma used this idea effectively for his summer-slump campaign.
The campaign is designed to assist a Sunday School is called “Turn on the Green Light?’ The goal of a campaign is to average as many in attendance during the summer months of June, July, and August as the previous average was in October, November, and December. The reasoning is that churches have growth through the fall and spring, but the summer seems to drop. And the church must spend the fall again regaining where they were in the spring. This campaign is an attempt to stop that slump and allow the fall growth to add to the previous year’s growth.
At this writing, Plainview Baptist Church has a Sunday School enrollment of just over 700 with an average attendance of 301. The “payoff” of this particular emphasis is that they maintained an average of 286 during the summer months which is 95 percent of the first six months average.
Make Sunday School workers aware of the program for June, July, and August. Begin the emphasis the first Sun day in June. Erect a green-light board with each department and class having their own lights. The goals are set by averaging the class or department’s average attendance beginning in October through April.
Each Sunday class or department members reach their goal, they have a green light lit on the board. Each time they miss their goal, a red light appears. Place the greenlight board in the vestibule of the church. Call attention to the progress each Sunday during the Sunday morning ser vice. The pastor, staff member, or Sunday School director should recognize classes and departments reaching their goals.
Since the goal is an average, a point should be made to workers that even if they miss their goal, a week or two weeks, they have the opportunity to make up the difference by having more than their goal the following Sunday. How ever, the board only reflects each Sunday It does not show the averages. At the climax of the summer an information sheet showing the averages for the summer can be shared and compared with the previous summer record.
The averages can be distributed during the weekly workers’ meeting, by distributing a green-light report listing each class, department, the goals, and the number average. Provide an honor roll of those reaching their goals; those missing it by three or less can be placed in a church paper or bulletin.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”