It’s no mystery that the COVID-19 pandemic had a profound and lingering impact on society. For many churches, the news about post-pandemic attendance continues to be less than ideal. According to a June 2023 Gallup Survey, church attendance is still 4 percent lower than pre-pandemic levels. Interestingly, the report shows that this downward trend started before the pandemic, but COVID acted like an accelerant on an already burning fire. While online services provide an alternative for those with reservations about in-person gatherings, the statistics show that online viewing is also declining. Why does church attendance matter?
There are plenty of pragmatic business reasons churches want to see their worship centers filled with people again – mortgage, insurance, ministry supplies, missionary support, compensation, utilities, etc. But for most churches, the mission is the real reason they want to see people visit, come back, and get involved. It’s about accomplishing what Jesus asked us to do in Matthew 28, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” To be clear, Jesus didn’t say to build a large gathering, but healthy growth is one way to measure the effectiveness of the ministry. Churches need an excellent outreach strategy that includes inviting the community to the church. Once guests arrive, the church must provide solid, biblical teaching and exceptional programs for children, youth, and adults. Then, churches need to connect people through groups, studies, and volunteering. Sometimes, it helps if there is a step to help people move from attending to belonging.
Go Old School
Most give credit to Plato for the proverb (not to be confused with the book of Proverbs in the Bible), “Our need will be the real creator,” which evolved into “necessity is the mother of invention.” The church where I serve recently needed to clear out several classrooms to install new carpeting. We also had a bunch of landscaping and other areas that desperately needed attention to give our facility a facelift. We went old school and organized an all-church workday and BBQ. Here’s what happened:
- We Created A Pathway For New Families To Join Us: Inviting the entire church family allowed the new and newer people to join in on something non-threatening. Behind the scenes we worked hard to create a role for everyone: cleaning chairs, touching up paint, trimming palms, pruning shrubs, fixing irrigation, marking furniture, moving furniture, cooking hotdogs and hamburgers, and watching the younger kids.
- We Created Connections: Many churches are attracting new people, but getting them connected has been difficult. Starting with food before work allowed everyone a chance to meet, hang out, and connect. These connections spilled over when it was time to get to work.
- We Got A Lot Done: Most churches have more work to do on their property than staff and vendors can keep up with. Our church needed to clear classrooms for a carpet install, but scheduling a workday allowed us to do so much more than we could have ever accomplished with staff.
- We Transitioned Attendees to Owners: Something unexpectedly beautiful happened to those who used to come on Sunday and leave right after the service. It was no longer the church they attended; it became their church. People are lingering, talking, and volunteering.
Accomplishing the mission Jesus gave us isn’t just for those in vocational ministry; it takes the entire Body of Christ. Sometimes, something as basic as an old-fashioned workday and BBQ can remind everyone why the church exists and turn them from casual Sunday attendees into sold-out followers of Jesus.short url: