Has the trend of declining attendance hit your church yet? Thom Rainer surmises that the drop in average attendance numbers might not be a simple as "they left."
The number one reason for the decline in attendance is that members attend with less frequency than they did just a few years ago … If the frequency of attendance changes, then attendance will respond accordingly. For example, if 200 members attend every week, average attendance is 200. But if one-half of those members miss one out of four weeks, the attendance drops to 175.
Did you catch that? No members left the church. Everyone is still relatively active. But attendance declined more than 12 percent because half the members slightly changed their pattern.
This phenomenon can take place rather quickly, leaving leaders scratching their heads because the behavioral change is so slight it is almost imperceptible. We rarely notice when someone who attends four times a month fades to three times. Nor do we typically catch it when the twice-a-month attendee becomes a once-a-month attendee … .[T]he heart of the problem is not declining numbers but waning commitment.
Thom suggests 5 ways churches can respond to the trend:
- Raise the expectations of membership
- Require an entry class for membership
- Encourage ministry involvement
- Offer more options for worship times
- Monitor the attendance of each member
Have you responded to declining attendance frequency?
We want to hear about what worked … or what didn't.
Copyright © 2014 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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