A pastor friend in Ohio recently tweeted: “Summer worship attendance is an oxymoron.”
What’s true around the nation is definitely true at GFUMC. Our worship attendance numbers have been noticeably down. But according to statistics it isn’t limited to summer. Mainline denomination church attendance numbers are trending down. Average worship attendance is now considered 1.4 Sundays a month.
Several thoughts about Sunday mornings:
With average worship attendance being 1.4 Sundays a month, we have to view every Sunday as our single opportunity for the month. Every Sunday has to be excellent, from greeters to ushers, teachers, hospitality, music, worship leaders, and preachers. And you. People make up their mind in the first five minutes of being on a church campus as to whether this may be a spiritual home for them or not. Pray before you come, that the Holy Spirit might fill our church, and fill you.
Jamey shared with me something he’d gleaned from a Netflix executive’s podcast. We live in an On Demand culture. People don’t want to wait. They want what they want when they want it. The best preachers and worship music are now a click away. 42 million people listen to podcasts weekly. Google sees around 30,000 searches every month related to online church services. Our weekly worship livestreaming of Lakeside and Chapel receive an average of 475 views per week.
What if we leveraged the time we have with people on Sundays to equip them to be disciple-makers when they are not here? Instead of making children pick between church and an activity, what if we taught them how to be a compelling witness for Christ on their team? A friend in children’s ministry shared this with me: “As the church, we need to be the most flexible (even though we know we are so much more important than sports). If we create irresistible spaces then when they do have the margin to attend they will be first in line. Plus...we can be super intentional about providing them opportunities to grow in faith and share their faith while outside of our building!”
I still believe church attendance is important. The Hebrew writer says this in 10:23-25: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
And I still believe one of the most effective ways to grow Sunday morning attendance is for church folks to invite folks to church. I’ve actually cracked the code on how to double Sunday morning attendance! One family brings one family.
I look forward to experiencing the risen Christ with you on Sunday.