As the weather cools down around our nations, church leaders are likely asking themselves, ‘How do I keep encouraging my congregation to continue to show up in the colder and darker months of the year?’ Dwindling numbers during the winter season are understandably discouraging. Here are a few ideas for how you can continue to keen church momentum through winter.
1. Speak vision, bring hope, spread joy
Church leaders aren’t immune from the downer that winter can bring. But do all you can not to succumb to it. Fire up. Preach like it’s summer. Remind yourself and your people of the vision and hope that you started the year with. Don’t lead according to what you see, lead according to what you would like to see. Walk by faith, not by sight.
2. Embrace the cold
Instead of fighting against the cold weather, is there some way in which you can work with it, or make it work for you? On Father’s Day, some churches who have a Sunday night meeting, cancel the meeting or move it to Friday night so that their people are free to spend Sunday night with their family. In this way, those churches are working with the occasion instead of fighting against it. Are there things you can do differently or adjustments you can make to work with the downsides of winter?
One church in Melbourne hosts its ‘annual anniversary event’ every winter. This is essentially a birthday party for the church, where they would celebrate all that God had done in the last 12 months, and use the event as an opportunity to encourage church members to come out during some of the coldest weeks of the year.
3. Ramp up community
When I think of the best of winter I think of hot meals with good company by a roaring fire. In other words, getting cosy. How might your church make building community a focus during winter? It’s probably going to involve food. What better way to get people out of their warm houses than with the offer of delicious food? Perhaps instead of a regular service, your congregation could gather around food and share life together.
4. Warm them up
I spent part of my childhood in Christchurch, New Zealand. Anyone who offered me a hot chocolate in winter became my friend. I once found myself lining up on a New York footpath, waiting for a church service to end before we could enter for the next. It was winter. Members of the church came down the line offering cups of hot chocolate.
5. Rally your people to the Cause
The missional cause of Christ knows no seasons. People need to encounter the life-transforming power of Christ all year round.
One way to achieve all the above at the one time is to plan and run Alpha. Depending on the size of your congregation, perhaps it could engage many or all of them. Alpha builds community and provides purpose. Preparing your congregation thoroughly for Alpha develops leaders, encourages mission and enhances unity around a common cause. Plus it’s a lot of fun that can transform eternal destinies.