Have you ever noticed that as soon as the last bell rings, classes are dismissed, and the hallways in your local schools are empty for summer break, that your ministry spaces may not be as full as they were for the previous season? Welcome to summer. Welcome to vacation season. Welcome to attendance fluctuation.
Even though this just-short-of-phenomenon occurs annually, sometimes it still shocks me when our first (earliest) of three services on Sunday mornings goes from 40 kids to 12 kids seemingly overnight. Now granted, the trend for our church is that most people end up just coming to a later service, which makes the other two services feel packed, but it’s still a very noticeable change for our first hour . . . which I’m considering just making a cereal-bar-breakfast hour. (Just kidding . . . sort of.)
But here’s what we know: life is full of phases and seasons; and our rhythm and the way we operate can be molded and adapted. I’ve served at churches that have three Sunday morning services during the school year, but then only have two services during the summer months.
A few years ago I witnessed something that changed me. It was the second week of summer break, and it was a Sunday morning, and the earliest service was about to begin. One of our amazing ministry partners, who was a small group leader had prepared for a great lesson, and then of her normal 10 kids, only 1 showed up. She was so devastated. She took it personally, though it wasn’t personal. It was just seasonal.
The one thing I want to put in front of you today, is the encouragement to not let summer attendance define how you feel about your ministry. It’s a false system of measurement. Sure it’s a number, and numbers matter to God (there’s an entire book called Numbers in the Bible)—and every “number” (person) has a story . . . I get that. But, you, your ministry, your influence, cannot be defined by numbers.
I’d like to encourage you today to see “the summer” as an opportunity. A chance to speak vision into your ministry. To train your ministry partners: to encourage, equip, interact, fellowship, etc.
I am a music lover; and I learned something about music that I think we can apply to leadership in ministry. It’s called “Concert Pitch;” if anyone is a musician they’ve probably heard of “middle C” on a piano. Or if anyone has ever played in a band they understand that sometimes when you play guitar and you have a keyboard/piano player, you can (should) tune your guitar to the piano’s pitch. Perhaps that, in itself, is a church leadership nugget you can use this week. Tell Gertrude who plays your organ, to make sure Bethel, who strums the harp to tune to the same pitch as the organ.
Did you know that in an orchestra, there is one instrument that every other instrument tunes to?
Every instrument tunes to the Oboe. The reason being is that the oboe produces the most accurate pitch of the “A” note at 440 Hertz (vibrations per second) and every stringed instrument in an orchestra has an “A” string. I heard an interview when a rookie oboe player was just learning how to stretch their talents and develop their breathing patterns more precisely for their music career; and as the first few violins tuned to the oboe’s pitch, things were great; however, as the other members of the orchestra later tuned to the oboe, the musician’s lungs were tired, and he had not produced the significant amount of force in his breathing, thus causing his pitch to be a bit flat. So one half of the orchestra was perfect pitch, the other half . . . not so much.
That’s how vision casting can be. Everyone is going to tune their instruments to their leadership! What you say matters, how you say it matters, when you say it matters! We do not want flat leaders! We want to inspire them and set them up for success!
So even though your ministry rooms may not be bursting at the seams with children this summer, do not let it slow your mission down. Use the time wisely with your ministry partners—fellowship, share, sharpen one another!
Help your band stay connected and stay in tune!