Solving the problem of decreasing church attendance frequency

A phenomenon is impacting churches. Maybe your church is an anomaly. But most churches—regardless of size and denominational affiliation—are experiencing a decrease in attendance frequency.

Attendance frequency measures how often a person comes to church.

For example, an “active” member was once considered someone who came twice, or even three times a week.

Today an active member is considered someone who comes twice a month.

Many reasons exist for this decline—from travel sports to the demise of cultural Christianity.

Not every reason is bad.

Some may be inching their way into church for the first time.

Others may be returning to church after years of being absent. People don’t jump back into the church; they tiptoe. However, in most cases, it’s congregants fading away that is the issue and this trend has an impact on all of us.

The church feels smaller but is actually larger

Consider a church that has four hundred people attending four out of four weeks.

This church has an average weekly attendance of four hundred.

Take the same church with the same people but change only the attendance frequency— lowered to two out of four weeks.

The church’s average weekly attendance is now two hundred.

The true size of your church could be double the average weekly attendance, if not higher. Many will wonder “Where is everyone?” on a Sunday morning, but pastors and church leaders will experience an increased ministry load.

As attendance frequency declines, the congregation will feel smaller while getting larger.

The people coming less frequently still email, call, and set up counselling appointments.

They still ask pastors to do funerals and weddings and come to the hospital.

Spiritual disciplines become weaker

As one discipline goes, so do the others.

People who attend church less frequently are also likely to read their Bibles less, pray less, and share their faith less.

Communication becomes harder even as the methods of communication increase

In a past era, the church used the Sunday morning gathering to communicate. Then

  • bulletins became popular
  • churches started to utilize newsletters mailed to homes
  • slides on screens started
  • email newsletters become prevalent
  • social media and texting services followed

At our church we use no less than twenty pathways of communication.

Over-communication becomes important in an era of decreased attendance frequency.

Congregational loyalty declines

Along with a drop in congregational loyalty, church hopping becomes even more common.

When people come less often, they tend to be less loyal to a particular congregation. When they are less loyal, then it’s easier to switch churches. Continue reading

  • Sam Rainer (pictured right) serves his local church as a pastor, writer, publisher, and researcher.
Additional reading

News category: Analysis and Comment.

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