My love-hate affair with church attendance

i was having conversation with friends the other night and the topic turned to church attendance.   we were discussing the attendance patterns we have had during the summer months over the years…and lamenting the drop-off.   this was not a new discussion.

whenever i get drawn into these conversations  (or start them myself),  it seems like we inevitably come to the conclusion that there has been a culture shift in the church through the years.   church attendance appears less important than it was years ago.

in my 57 years,  i’ve been actively engaged in the lives of five church families  (21 years in my “home” church…5 years in a church during my later college and early married years…10 years in huntington beach…5 years in our church plant/missionary days in san diego…and the past 16 years here at north point).

i will stipulate that my life as a church family member has often been a little different than those who were not part of the church leadership team.   i have been a church program organizer…an equipper of leaders…a manager of ministries and activities…an overseer of program budgets and resources…and a person who has been regularly involved in the lives of 100’s and 100’s of people connected to church stuff.

i’ve always felt that what i was involved in was important,  life-changing and worth the time and effort of my investment.   i’ve always been inspired and encouraged by those who shared a similar investment.   and i’ve always struggled with disappointment and frustration when participation and involvement was low.   i suppose that struggle will continue.

but there is another side.   and we who are in positions of responsibility and leadership of church business…or should i say, busyness?…need to see things from a different perspective if we are going to truly leverage our influence for the good of the kingdom,  as well as the good of people,  in a healthy and biblical way.

there’s more to church than attendance at church functions.   way more.   and our ability to separate the two will go a long way towards shaping us into a community of christ-followers worthy of our name and calling.

this discussion is not for the faint of heart.   stay tuned.


6 thoughts on “My love-hate affair with church attendance

  1. concern over church attendance seems crass and egotistical. But is it really? Aren’t we to be concerned about attendance in the Kingdom? Each tick on the attendance roll is ONE indicator of our effectiveness at “planting & watering”. There are other indicators of course – but healthy churches effectively increase Kingdom attendance. Church attendance is a bellweather of health.

    1. i don’t disagree, jay. but i think the deeper we’ve gone into the modernization of the church, and church practices, the more confusing mere church program attendance has become.

      i’m going to keep writing on this subject for a while…a little at a time…and hopefully i’ll get everything i’m thinking out on the table. i appreciate your insights.

  2. I don’t know if this helps or hurts. When I was between churches, I found plenty to do on Sundays. If not recouping from an evening the night before, Lowe’s and Home Depot were always calling my name. Travel was easier because there was no one to hammer me for missing a Sunday. Before I knew it, Sunday was almost over and it was time to plan for Monday. Why would I want to every blow a few good hours on Sunday morning.

    One day it just clicked inside me, I need to find a church. I think my wife was ready before me.There was nothing mystical about our decision to look for a new church home.

    Once we found said church, I noted there was no $1,000,000 budget. No Slick children’s program. No one trying to immediately plug me into a small group. These are the things I am used to in a church. No, my family rolled into a church and witnessed a pastor playing bass, followed by a pool party and a hotdog and heard of this project helping repair houses. We didn’t need a billboard telling us how much spirit was pouring out. There was no need. We found our home.

    I decided there were better things to do on Sunday mornings than pull weeds, beat the baptist to lunch or fight off a hangover. Me.

    I think I need a definition of church health.

  3. Mike you can’t get down about low church attendance and then turn around and knock big churches for their massive attendance numbers, you have to play fair!

  4. In the book of brunswick 9:4-7

    Thus sayeth The Czar, thou shall manifest your presence at AMF Lanes Bowling Alley Every Sunday Night from 5pm to 7pm. Winter or Summer, Rain or Shine. Until a 300 game you bowl.

    Inthink that people use summer as an excuse to play hookey from church. Just sayin…

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