Those who attend church are attending church less frequently. The trend has become particularly evident in the church I serve. We have on average, one third more frequent attenders than our average attendance number. Meaning that on any given week one third or more of our people are somewhere besides in church.
The trend is not unique to our church. Thom Rainer identified this as the #1 Reason For The Decline in Church Attendance. He also suggested possible solutions which have been helpful in churches.
Carey Nieuwhof wrote 10 Reasons Even Committed Church Attenders Are Attending Church Less Often. He followed with an incredibly insightful 5 part series on why people are attending church less often. The trend creates significant challenges related to continuity and momentum building.
What are we to do as shepherds of the church? There is no quick fix. We must resist the tendency to grow negative in our responses to the situation and seek to meet people where they are with a faith focus.
First, be aware of the reality in your church if you are dealing with the issue. Ignoring the situation won’t make it go away. If you are aware of it, at least you can begin to think about possible ways to build faithfulness.
Second, a movement away from consumer oriented churches has to be part of the solution. If people view the church as just another expendable activity they are more likely to neglect faithfulness. If they view the church as a covenant community the depth of their participation will be greater.
Third, emphasize community and relationships. Teach people how to grow in a relationship with God and in relationships with others. The more connected people are to each other in the family of God, the more likely they are to be accountable and consistent in their participation in the life of the church.
Fourth, creativity is necessary to learn how to implement the ministries of the church and raise the level of commitment. This is the most difficult of the suggestions because problems are much more evident than solutions.
I am hopeful for the church because Jesus promised he would build it and nothing could prevail against it. As shepherds we need to know where the sheep are because we are accountable to God for the souls entrusted to us.