Solving the Problem of Decreasing Attendance Frequency in Your Church
In my last post, I revealed a problem. A phenomenon is impacting churches of all sizes and affiliations in the United States. The frequency of attendance is dropping among congregants.
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.
The problem of decreasing attendance frequency is pervasive, and there are no quick fixes. However, some strategies are helping churches increase faithfulness.
Create a weekly rhythm around programs and avoid growth strategies with big events. I’m not opposed to big events that draw crowds. There are times to do them. But big events will not help solve attendance frequency problems. In fact, if a church only does big events, then the likely outcome—by design—is low attendance frequency. Focusing on big events trains people to come only when something big is happening. A ministry strategy focusing on strong weekly programs is more likely to increase how often people come to church.
Encourage spiritual disciplines. What comes first? Stronger spiritual disciplines or the discipline of coming to church regularly? Both disciplines go together. The more a church member focusing on spiritual disciplines like prayer and evangelism, the more frequently he or she will attend church regularly. Faithfulness in one area spills over into others.
Maintain high expectations of membership. Low expectations tend to produce low attendance frequency. High expectations tend to produce high attendance frequency. Requiring a membership class and setting solid expectations of members is one way to combat the problem of decreasing attendance frequency.
Go all-in with group involvement. This one is simple and proven. The facts are straightforward. After five years, 83% of people will stick in your church if they attend a group and a worship service. Just 16% will stick after five years if they attend a worship service only. Get people in groups regularly and watch your attendance frequency increase.
Do not compromise on leadership requirements. It’s hard to find good leaders. The temptation is to lower your standards to fill open spots. Don’t. High expectation churches have high expectations of leaders.
Follow up with those who fade away. Unfortunately, many churches do not take the time to follow up with those who are not coming as often. Go through your membership list of those who have joined in the last couple of years. Note everyone who is not involved in a group. Note those who are not frequent attenders. Then call them! Be gracious. Don’t make assumptions. Simply catch up and let them know you care. Begin with encouragement, not church discipline. Most will respond positively.
Decreasing attendance frequency is a problem at most churches. The headwinds are strong but not insurmountable. The key is to start working towards a solution. Even if progress is slow, it’s better than doing nothing.