As much as you and I may dislike it, we can’t argue with the fact that people are attending church less often than they used to. It’s not uncommon for someone to attend church once or twice a month. That’s becoming the norm, and even your most committed members may only show two to three times a month.
There are lot of different reasons people are showing up less, like more traveling, kids’ activities, and the emergence of online options. But what concerns me most is that it just seems like people don’t see the value in attending a church anymore.
I gave my life to Jesus when I was 20 years old, and I fell in love with the church shortly after. It just made sense that those two things went hand in hand, especially when I realized the joy of serving others.
It was no longer about attending church; it was about being the church. The church didn’t exist to meet my every need. I moved from being a consumer to being a contributor. This made a world of difference for me.
Let’s face it, people who show up and never get involved are not going to be real concerned with church attendance. They’re going to show up once or twice a month for the music and message, and they’re going to leave. You can try to guilt them into showing up more, but you’ll be wasting your time.
People no longer feel guilty about skipping out on church.
So, what should we do?
1. Stop trying to please everyone. Spend your time, energy, and effort with those who are contributing in the church. If they’re not giving or serving, then they should have very little say so in what happens in the church. If your church is congregational led, which means every member gets a vote, put a clause in that says, to be a member you need to be giving and serving.
2. Get people engaged in the mission. We know that people who are involved in serving and small groups show up to church more often than those who aren’t involved. Since we know that for a fact, we need to do everything possible to get people connected. When people start being the church, they’re more likely to attend the church.
3. Focus on those you want to reach. Many small town churches focus on trying to please those inside the church and end up never reaching anyone new. This is why so many of those churches are in decline. When you focus on those who aren’t there yet, you end up reaching outsiders and engaging insiders, which most of the time leads to growth.
4. Provide opportunities outside of your regular services. Let’s not forget, as much as we would like to see people showing up to church every Sunday that’s not the ultimate goal. The goal is to get people to grow closer to Jesus. They can do that by being a part of a small group. They can do that by reading a Bible devotional together. They can do that by serving at a local food bank.
If people aren’t showing up to church, you engage them where they are. That seemed to be Jesus’ strategy, and it’s a strategy that still works today.