“What’s so special about summer anyway?” … said no one, ever.
It’s time for resting, vacationing, suntans and (if you’re wise) a fair amount of planning ahead for the busy seasons that comes right on the heels of all that summertime slowdown…like Christmas sermon planning.
It’s time for a collective sigh of relief and an embracing of the long awaited summertime reset we have all needed.
Now, if you’re finding yourself reading this right smack in the middle of summer – you’re not too late to hit some huge wins in your church member communication by keeping in mind some strategic ‘summer only’ rules. From adjusting your communication to better find it’s way to beachside cell phones to embracing the right kind of summertime vibes, we’ll share some of the secret summertime tricks to stay on top of your church’s engagement strategy.
Honey, don’t forget the charger!!
Before you leave the house, what’s the last thing you double check to make sure you’ve brought with you? For a lot of us, it’s a cell phone.
What’s the last thing you double check you didn’t accidentally leave before checking out of a hotel room? Is it a cell phone charger?
It’s no secret that mobile devices are the gate keepers to huge amounts of information and communication people rely upon every day.
All year round, in fact, 60% of email opens come from mobile devices, and what’s more, they found that without graphically optimizing emails for mobile viewing, 68% – 79% of consumers would react by deleting the email.
And with so many trips occurring during the summer months, mobile devices being the digital gateway to communication becomes all the more true.
While statistics like these can be disheartening if you’re not sure how to optimize something graphically, you can find a lot of intuitive insights from returning to the basics.
How are your members ‘interacting’ with your church if they’re not physically at church?
If you were to put yourself in the shoes of your church members and considered if your members encounter your church as easily as they encounter consumer brands, what would you say?
Is your church member engagement strategy easy for someone to utilize or difficult?
Proactively considering how your church members’ experience your church digitally is a vital component of anyone’s ability to interact with your church and hear the messages of God’s love you hope to share.
Vibes… Vibes, bro.
There’s a reason the phrase ‘vibes’ has made such a strong comeback in recent years. The essence of a situation or circumstance can never be separated from it. And while spring is full of growth and hard work, the heat of summer forces us into a temporary and critical respite to recharge before the fall.
The summer vibes that not only celebrate rest, but also emphasize it’s importance and encourage it are integral parts of a healthy annual messaging plan.
Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky is by no means a waste of time.
– John Lubbock
Indeed, some of the most well known and scriptures mentions rest schedules to set our cadence of worship!
And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
– Genesis 2:2-3
It’s more than fair to say: we all need to take breaks – they give space for the healthy, important check ins that allow us to keep up the maintenance on our mental ‘cars’ before the check engine light comes on. Make sure that your messaging this summer takes time to encourage that.
And remember, there is no ‘one size fits all’ for mental health. For one person, ‘resting’ from normal life might mean a nap, while another person’s cup is refilled from a ride on a jet-ski.
The deeper message of encouragement a church can send to it’s church members is one that encourages them to rest in order to create space for God to encourage and/or heal them on each unique step of their personal journey of faith.
If you’re not sure how to ‘digitally’ encourage someone with regards to such an important topic, that’s ok- because God has the hard part covered. You don’t have to walk someone through each page of the bible and you can’t force them to encounter God’s love. You can, however, lead them to some thoughtful starting points that God can bring encouragement & insights from.
Self guided content is a great example introducing someone to scriptural truths so they can dive as deeply as they are ready to individually go. And bonus! Self guided content can be programmed ahead of time, allowing you to set a consistent series of wheels in motion.
During the summer season, consider setting up a ‘self guided challenge’ as a way for your church members to have a little competitive fun while digging deeper into the Word.
For people whose summer have more solitude and fewer soirees, self guided programs are not only a great way to dive deeper in scripture, they’re also a way for people to feel connected, important and loved by their church leadership and community.
Just showing up can make all the difference
For every sun kissed, ‘Instagram perfect’ picture that gets posted this summer, there is a dark room with a lonely person in it who misses the otherwise regular routine of school, work and community.
Ian Cook MD, the director of the Depression research program at UCLA explains how the circumstances during summer can create additional stress and what some might brush off as “FOMO” can bring on significant distress and loneliness for others.
It’s not difficult to imagine when you consider that people’s interactions with support networks & communities become inconsistent, sleep schedules are thrown off and most of us feel like we’re begrudgingly competing in swimsuit competitions.
With all those hiccups this summer, thank GOD we have a beautiful source of encouragement and promises to remember.
Genesis, God promised Jacob… “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.”
– Genesis 28:15
The Psalms proclaim, “Be still and know that I Am with you.”
– Psalm 46:10
And the beautiful imagery in Isaiah helps us feel that weightless freedom as it’s written, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
– Isaiah 40:31
Reminders like these bring hope and shine God’s light into dark times. As church leaders and communication experts, it’s our job to continue to send those messages of love to the people who need to hear them. And in summer, some may need them more than ever.
And what about you? Are you feeling like you could use some time to recharge?
You need to, you deserve to and you should. Content creators have actually been known to carry consistently high levels of stress.
Whomever is creating the content for your church is a real person who needs a real break. However, your church as an institution and support mechanism for it’s members should not.
Remember the verses and the research articles? Those all apply to you too!
Also remember – communication scheduling software is your friend, use it!
Summer Summed Up
While summertime might mess with schedules, it can also give people more time to connect privately with content and messages on their own. Consider what your church’s digital experience is like for your members. How easy is your content to enjoy? Is there enough of it for hungrier members or people who will find themselves with more opportunity to commit than the rest of the year? By using scheduling software and making smart choices with your church’s marketing and communications strategies, you can get a consistent message of God’s love and your church members’ value straight to them no matter where summer takes them.