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Why High Attendance

by chuck lawless

I realize some readers will hear this idea as “cheesy” and “man-centered,” but here are my thoughts nevertheless. Despite my belief that many churches today are far too programmatic and pragmatic, I would still go back to having an old-fashioned “High Attendance Day” (though I would not call it by that name)—especially as we’re still recovering from the attendance effects related to COVID. Here’s why:

It focuses on people. I’m well aware that such an emphasis can put numbers above people, but that’s not an automatic result. Done well with an intentional focus on the unchurched, a high attendance day truly can emphasize people.   

It reminds members of a central task of the church. God expects us to reach others with the gospel. We are to make disciples, both near us and around the world. Most congregations, though, need help remembering that calling. A simple, fun, focused attendance emphasis is one way to do that.

It leads the church to evaluate its growth patterns. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a church looking at its attendance numbers and then seeking to reach more people. Attendance benchmarks help the church to see where they are and then challenge them to reach more unchurched folks.

It pushes members to think beyond themselves. Most church members not only have never shared their faith, but they’ve also not invited anyone to church. An intentional outreach focus can at least turn their attention outwardly.

It challenges the church to pray about the unchurched. You’d hope that a church always prays this way, but that’s not often the case. A high attendance emphasis that calls the church to pray for unchurched family members, neighbors, co-workers, and fellow students is a positive thing.

It moves the church toward excellence. On the “big day” of a high attendance campaign, the church wants to be ready. They want greeters at every door. They want everything to be first-rate for any guests who might attend. A move in this direction, even for only one Sunday, can nudge the church in a right direction.

People will hear the gospel. That’s the primary point of an attendance emphasis, anyway. Somebody who has never heard the good news might come and hear about Jesus. If so, that’s worth all the effort.

Any “balloon” growth often leads to more growth. If a church comes close to meeting its goal, it’s unlikely that “balloon” of temporary growth will last – but it often does still result in some level of consistent growth.

COVID-related non-attenders might come back. My guess is that for some of these folks, simply taking the first step to return will make a difference. Maybe this high attendance day will be that spark. 

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