Attendance is simultaneously one of the most and least talked about subjects in the church today. Leaders want to talk about it, but we hesitate to bring in up in gatherings, almost like its not the right thing to do.
How do we count, what is counted, and some even asking should we count like we have in the past?
Perhaps the most important question is why do we keep track of attendance?
- What do changing attendance patterns mean?
- Where is the church headed?
- What’s the best Kingdom strategy?
- What are the long-term impacts of the Hybrid Church?
Is the church in trouble? No. Not if we are willing to continue to change. In fact, I genuinely believe our best days are ahead.
However, the changes we make for the future of the church should not be reactionary. Defense alone never wins the game. We must take risks to stay on the offense to take new territory.
We may become less concerned with the size of the church and become more focused on the strength of the church. That idea has been stirring for a long time. Strength leads to growth. A refocus on church strength rather than attendance only would change how we lead and what we do.
Don’t get me wrong; we will always care about attendance because it matters. One mattered to Jesus, so one person still matters.
Church leaders are beginning to measure outcomes differently. Measuring different outcomes leads us to emphasize different ministries in different ways.
The reason I will always care about “attendance” is that I want to reach more people with the good news of Christ in a way that changes their life! The question is how people engage church today, it’s not the same.
We need small, mid-sized, large and huge churches. God’s purpose can’t be limited or contained in our ideas, methods, and systems. One method doesn’t work if our goal is to reach all peoples.
Hybrid church, Micro church, online groups, in-person attendance, and we haven’t yet imagined what is coming next.
Reach and impact are more important than size, but we can never let that become an excuse for lack of zeal or drifting into a comfort zone. Life change has always been the true measure of a great church.
The Church is changing, but its potential is greater than ever.
How we think and lead will impact our outcomes.
4 reasons the church has great potential:
1) It’s never been about the organization.
It’s always been about the body of Christ, not an organization. However, the Church as we know it was God’s idea. God allowed the supernatural realm to invade the natural realm. He knew that was necessary to reach people where they are.
God allowed us to “organize” so we could more effectively worship Him, care for one another and reach others who don’t believe.
The church as an organization is flawed. We can neither escape or excuse that. We are to embrace it and make it better. The churches in Ephesus, Corinth, Galatia, Thessalonica – and so many more, were all flawed. That didn’t stop the early church.
We get to get up every morning and lead change, so the church becomes more effective.
It’s wise to remember that Jesus is the only real connection that sustains the Church’s identity and purpose through all the change.
How is your church changing and improving because of your leadership?
2) Digital is here to stay, but it will never replace soul-level relationship.
We are learning. Churches are getting better at digital-first connections. We’re catching up. Couples have found each other and become married starting with a digital connection for nearly twenty years. Technology also helps us stay connected.
Digital is the new relationship – a new kind of relational. But at some point, in relationships, human beings are designed to make contact.
A longing for heart level intimacy is woven into our spirit. Technology may help us get connected and stay connected, but there is a space in relationship where human beings need a soul connection. The local church is really good at that.
Technology has its limitations too. Who knew that software development and equipment could cost as much as the buildings we worship in? Millions! There will be a day when we need a better answer even within our better answers.
The good news is that you can still get a cup of coffee for about $1.50 and there is something deeply meaningful about face to face conversation.
The church does that well.
3) Current culture needs real answers more than ever.
There is no need for detailed social commentary here. It’s obvious. We’ve lost our way. That’s not remotely a political rendering; it’s just reality. We’ve lost a shared connection, a unifying cause, and a true north. Division rules the day.
Every person for himself never works. People are hurting, some quietly and some overtly, and the overall needs are great. We need each other now more than ever.
The church has an incredible opportunity for bringing hope and unity to a culture that is suffering.
The opportunities for practical partnership are abundant. Your church can partner with schools, food co-ops, medical clinics, recovery agencies, shelters for the homeless, businesses and the list goes on.
No one church can or needs to partner with all of them; you can choose a few or just one. Your attendance might not immediately increase, but your impact will, which will strengthen your church and in time cause growth.
Your church was designed to operate, and function on mission outside its “4 walls.” And as always, the most significant and potentially eternal impact is one to one.
The Church is the greatest force on earth to positively impact current culture. In what ways are you taking advantage of your opportunities to impact your community?
4) There is great momentum in the church today.
When we look at the Christian Church worldwide, there is great momentum. We know this in part because there is resistance. Wherever there is progress, there will always be resistance.
That’s a great question for your church.
Where is your resistance?
Is it about taking new Kingdom territory or conflicts inside?
People turn to the church when they are hurting, and they can’t find answers anywhere else. People need life to make sense and in many ways it doesn’t.
It’s up to us to not only be ready, relevant and available to help meet needs but also to step outside our churches to find those who need the love of God.
Momentum is fueled by love. Momentum requires leadership, but our expression of God’s love is the foundation of the church.
This is what we were designed for and releases our great potential.