Most churches are struggling with sporadic attendance. Recent studies suggest the majority of self-identified church goers attend Sunday worship once every 4-5 weeks. The downsides of uneven attendance are many. For example, consistent instruction is made difficult, accountability for Christian living is decreased, spiritual growth opportunities are overlooked, dedicated volunteers are hard to find and a deep sense of community is lost.
Sporadic attendance is a cultural reality the church will have to navigate. Life is busier today. Sunday options have greatly increased. Employers often expect work over worship. Travel has become more frequent and the negative stigma of “skipping church” has all but disappeared. Still, encouraging faithful attendance is worth our best effort.
Here are 6 commitments that help address sporadic attendance:
Commitment 1: RAISE THE BAR OF DISCIPLESHIP
Church leadership should regularly highlight the discipleship benefits of consistent attendance including the gift of studying Scripture together, the soul refreshing experience of worship, the joy of journeying through life together and the importance of a weekly reminder of life’s deeper meaning.
Commitment 2: INCREASE HOSPITALITY
Good hospitality is an important part of addressing Sunday attendance. A warm greeting, a quality cup of coffee, a lite bite and an invitation to take everything into the worship center nurtures a warm place where people like to return. Hospitality, of course, demands a well-run and very safe childcare ministry.
Commitment 3: INVEST IN DEEPER RELATIONSHIPS
People return to connect with friends. There are many ways churches can intentionally invest in building deeper relationships. One large church, for example, took advantage of people sitting in the same location week after week by creating section hosts who nurtured connection and care.
Commitment 4: GIVE PEOPLE A REASON TO COME BACK
Retailers fill our inboxes with reasons to return and shop again. Similarly, churches should highlight reasons to return. Preaching in series is a reason to return. Special events and children’s programming will create a reason to return. Mostly it’s about quality preaching and inspiring worship.
Commitment 5: NURTURE OWNERSHIP
Ownership increases participation. Ownership can be created by asking someone to bring cookies, serve as a greeter, distribute bulletins, take the offering, participate on a prayer team, prepare the coffee, serve communion, pick up bulletins between services, or assist with childcare. The opportunities are many.
Commitment 6: PROVIDE A “SUNDAY SHOUT-OUT” (or its equivalent)
Sunday Shout-Out is a newsletter styled email sent on Sunday afternoon highlighting what took place on Sunday morning (including a message link), upcoming events, pastoral concerns and various growth and service opportunities. The weekly newsletter keeps infrequent attenders informed and connected.
The author of Hebrews encouraged readers to “…not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing…” (Hebrews 10:25). These are still good and encouraging words in a new cultural day.