Thom S. Rainer: Six Things Pastors Should Know About Church Summer Slumps

“I hate summer attendance!”

That sentence came from a pastor whose church is consistently down in attendance in the summer. Indeed, his sentiments were echoed in many conversations I had with pastors. The conversation began at the consulting and coaching hub at Church Answers. I expanded it with some inquiries via emails, calls, and texts.

The insights these pastors shared were invaluable. Perhaps you can identify with many of them.

  1. A typical average decline is 20 percent. We used average worship attendance as our metric. The 20 percent number was the response from two of three pastors in this survey. So, for a church with an average worship attendance of 200 during the non-summer months, attendance drops to 160 in the summer.
  2. Snowbird churches tend to have greater fluctuations. For example, churches in southwest Florida and south Florida tend to have an exodus of attendees in the summer, usually greater than 20 percent. On the other hand, a pastor in Minnesota told us his church’s summer attendance was unchanged. Vacationers were offset by returning snowbirds.
  3. Churches in towns dominated by colleges have declines greater than 20 percent. Of course, this issue is often a reflection of the robustness of the church’s college ministry. A pastor in a town where the college makes up a major part of the population told us his church’s summer decline was around 50 percent!

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Thom S. Rainer