Summer Serve // It’s all in the ask

Many churches across the country have discovered that summer time is a perfect time for getting people plugged into community through service. This week we’re exploring what a “Summer Serve Campaign” could look like in your church

So you want to encourage people to serve one Sunday every month for June, July and August this summer?  Great!  You need to think really carefully about how you ask people to join the team.  Here are three principles we’ve tried to apply when asking.

Make it Fun

One of our three values at Liquid is “church is fun” . . . we took this opportunity to puncture the normal haze around “announcements” and really stepped up the “fun factor” for our ask with Summer Serve.  Make it fun so it attracts a crowd and encourages people to join! Last year we went with a hawaiian party theme for our ask.  We tried to push this theme at every stage of the asking process.

  • As people arrived on Sunday morning they saw a “tiki bar” in the foyer serving smoothies.
  • We had our “hosts” at the tiki bar playing games with people like “limbo” and “pineapple bowling”.
  • Our Campus Pastors wore these obnoxiously loud hawaiian shirts on stage to talk about it.
  • As the Campus Pastor walked onto stage we played some of the kitschy hawaiian music.
  • If people signed up for Summer Serve on the first week . . . they got a free smoothie at the tiki bar.
  • If people signed up the second week . . . we entered them in a draw for a table top bbq.
  • The first week we announced it . . . we had beach balls on bouncing in the crowd as we kicked off the announcement slot.

Keep it Simple

I am huge believer that you need to narrow the focus to help people make a decision. The more choices that you give people . . . the harder it is for people to make a decision. People don’t actually like choice.  Don’t believe me? [Read this] [Watch This] [Study This] [or this] Some tips for designing the sign up form for Summer Serve:

  • Only ask people for contact information you are going to use. Not going to do a follow up call?  Don’t ask for a phone number!
  • Give people minimum serving options . . . each ministry area will want to list every role they have available.  Push back.  Deny them.  Get the options down to three.  Period.

For the people who subscribe to the blog through the weekly email . . . they are going to get sample Summer Serve forms. (Not just ours at Liquid either!) Not an email subscriber?  [Sign up now]  You get the weeks worth of posts delivered to your email every Friday plus some bonus content!

Inculcate Inclusion

In every communication with your people . . . let them know that everyone at your church everyone does Summer Serve!  State it as a positive expectation to join up and serve.  You are attempting to shift the serving culture . . . and language shapes culture . . . make sure to use language that builds expectation that everyone is joining Summer Serve like . . .

  • “Every summer at our church . . . everyone signs up to join the team . . . “
  • ” . . . last summer we had so much fun taking time to serve on a team”
  • “We all pitch in . . . every summer . . . it’s really a fun part of being a part of our church!”

What have you found that works when you ask people to join the team at your church?  I’d love to hear your tips on communicating clearly!  [Join the conversation now!]

On Friday I’m going to give you a handful of details that make the experience for people helping with Summer Serve a great one . . . and that will help them join the team for the fall!


  1. Rich
    Great set of ideas. Personally, we’ve always found the most powerful way to garner volunteer support is with one on one conversations. More labour intensive than emails, central comms etc, but I think probably with a higher hit rate. We all respond better to personal requests. For great examples on this I can recommend the book ‘Yes, 50 scientifically proven ways to be persuasive’ – one story from there is how a simple change in approach from your doctor/dentist can reduce the ‘no shows’ radically – rather than have the receptionist make the statement ‘please let us know if you can’t make it’, they instead say ‘will you phone me and let me know if you can’t make it?’ and then wait for a response.

    What about setting aside one evening for a ‘call centre’. Get some enthusiastic older teens and twenties to do a phone around. I wonder how much of the summer rota you could fill in one evening? It works for politicians, and we’ve got something much more attractive on offer – the joy of serving!

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