Summer provides an excellent opportunity for church leaders to reflect, plan, and prepare for the upcoming fall season of ministry.
By Chris Surratt
For most pastors and church leaders, summer means having more flex time in their schedules. It is an excellent time to prepare for the upcoming fall ministry season when many churches experience a surge in attendance and activity.
The summer months provide an opportunity to work not just in the ministry but also on the ministry. Here are 10 things every church leader should do in the summer to prepare for the fall:
1. Reflect on the past season
Take some time to reflect on the past year in ministry. What worked well? What didn’t? And what lessons did you learn? Use this time to evaluate your ministries and make any necessary changes. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your team to get an honest assessment of how things are going.
This might be a good time to schedule a day or two away from the church with your leadership team to reflect and plan together without the distractions of the office.
2. Plan for the upcoming year
Once you’ve spent time reflecting on the previous ministry season, start thinking through dreams and plans for the upcoming year. Consider what new events and programs you want to implement, what activities you should prune, what areas of ministry you want to focus on, and what goals you want to set. Take time to pray with your team and seek God’s guidance as you plan.
If you don’t already have the rhythm of utilizing a unified ministry calendar, this would be a great time to start it. Getting everything on one calendar enables you to see where there’s redundancy and waste in your events.
3. Set SMART goals
As you plan for the upcoming year, set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for your ministry. How many people do you want to see in small groups? How many new volunteers do you need to recruit for growth and attrition? Is there a number of baptisms you would like to see take place?“As you plan for the upcoming ministry year, set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for your church.” — @ChrisSurratt Click To Tweet
These goals will help your team stay focused and motivated throughout the year. Make sure your new goals align with your church’s mission and vision.
4. Recruit and train volunteers
Summer is a perfect time to continue recruiting and training new volunteers for the next ministry season. As you recruit, provide training opportunities for new and existing volunteers to ensure they are equipped for the ministry tasks they will be performing. Never ask a volunteer to perform a job you have not trained them well to do. Failing to equip them with training sets them up for failure and/or burnout.
This is also a good time to make sure all your staff and volunteers understand the “why” behind the ministry they are working in. We can easily skip the why and get right to the what, and that also leads to burnout.
5. Develop a communication plan
Clear and consistent communication is key to the success of any ministry. Develop a communication plan for the upcoming year that includes regular updates to your congregation and community about events, programs, and other important information.“Clear and consistent communication is key to the success of any ministry.” — @ChrisSurratt Click To Tweet
Don’t just rely on Sunday morning announcements to get the word out. Utilize various communication channels, such as email, text, social media, and your church’s website to reach your congregation. In fact, only use Sunday announcements to highlight two to three next steps for the majority of the congregation (i.e. fill out an information card, join a small group, attend a newcomers class, etc.).
6. Take time for personal development
As a church leader, it is essential to take time for personal development. Use the summer months to attend conferences, participate in webinars, or engage in other training opportunities that will help you grow as a leader.
While relaxing at the pool or beach, take time to read books and listen to podcasts that will help you stay informed about trends and best practices in ministry. Remember, growing leaders grow leaders. We should always strive to learn and improve ourselves so we can help those we lead take their next steps.
7. Evaluate your technology and online presence
As we learned during the pandemic, having a strong online presence is crucial for churches. Use the summer season to evaluate your church’s website and social media accounts. Is your website up-to-date and user-friendly?
Research indicates 80% of visitors review church websites before stepping foot into a church building. Are you using social media effectively to engage with your congregation and reach new people? Are there any new digital tools or platforms you should consider using?
You can also use this time to evaluate your church’s technology infrastructure. Are your computers and other devices up-to-date and secure? Do you have a plan in place for data backup and recovery in case of a technology failure?
8. Connect with community partners
To reach the whole city, it is crucial to build relationships with other community organizations and partners. Use these months to connect with local schools, non-profit organizations, and other churches in your area. Consider ways you can collaborate on community service projects, events, or other initiatives in the upcoming year.“Building and nurturing strong relationships with community partners can help your church expand its reach and impact in the community.” — @ChrisSurratt Click To Tweet
Building and nurturing strong relationships with community partners can help your church expand its reach and impact in the community. It can also help you identify new needs and opportunities for ministry.
9. Pray for your church and community
Most importantly, take time to pray for your congregation and community. Prayer is a powerful tool and can help you stay focused on God’s purposes for your church and community.
Consider hosting a prayer event with other churches or encouraging your congregation to participate in a prayer campaign as you prepare for the fall season.
10. Rest and recharge
Finally, don’t forget to rest and recharge during the summer season. We all know ministry can be demanding. And it is essential to take time to care for yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Take a vacation, spend time with family and friends, and engage in activities that bring you joy and refill your energy levels.
The summer season provides an excellent opportunity for church leaders to reflect, plan, and prepare for the upcoming fall season. By doing these ten things, you will be better equipped to lead your church and serve your congregation in the months ahead.
For permission to republish this article, please email Marissa Postell Sullivan.
Chris is the Executive Pastor of Discipleship and Groups at Harvest Church in California. He served on churches in Tennessee and South Carolina prior to becoming the discipleship and small groups specialist for Lifeway. He is the author of multiple books, including Leading Small Groups, and co-hosts the Group Answers podcast.