Every church, and every church leader, faces challenges. Often we believe that if we were in a different size church, a different denomination, or worked with a different demographic our problems would go away. As illusionists, we wish we could make all of your church problems disappear. Unfortunately, we just do illusions - not miracles. 🙂 However, we can reassure you that many of the challenges that you face in your church are the same obstacles others in much different situations are also facing.
This Summer we have partnered with churches for 32 events in nine different denominations and in 14 different states. These churches ranged in sizes of less than 200 to over 40,000. As we talked and worked with these leaders there were two things that seemed to come up over and over again. One was positive, the other is much more of a challenge.
The #1 Negative Trend in Churches
Almost every church leader we talked with shared that a major challenge they are facing is that even their “regular attenders” are physically entering the building less and less often. Regular church attendance no longer means showing up 45+ weeks of the year. Now, more and more people who would say they regularly attend church are attending only once ever four to six weeks. Why has church attendance shifted like this? Here are three of the many reasons:
- Kids Activities. Gone are days when Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings were reserved for church activities alone. Now, sports and extracurricular activities are scheduled every day of the week- including Sunday mornings.
- Family Dynamics. Single parent families and blended families often split their attendance among more than one church. The kids might attend one place with dad, and another with mom. This makes a weekly interaction with these kids much more challenging.
- The internet. Yes, the internet has changed everything. This includes how people take in their spiritual content. Many Christians simply choose to listen to podcasts from their favorite preachers. And, many regular church attenders choose to attend via an online web stream, facebook live, etc.
In response to this, churches have seen an increase in their attendance when they have special events at the church, themed days within kids ministry, and other specific on-site offerings to draw people in and keep people connected. Sporadic church attendance has also been a contributor to a positive trend we are seeing in churches...
The #1 Positive Trend in Churches
The good news is that many churches have become extremely intentional about become active in their communities. In the past a church was often viewed as a physical building you would go to when you need prayer, assistance, or for weddings and funerals.
Now, instead of just a building that sits there waiting for people to show up, more and more churches are going out into their communities. Sometimes this looks like a mobile VBS, a connection with local schools, or simply manning a water station at a local 5K run. When a church becomes more active in their community they gain a better understanding of the real needs of the people around them. This often leads to a more focused and effective ministry. It also leads to a stronger connection and level of trust that encourages people in the community to then go and attend the church.
These are just two of the many trends we are seeing. There will always be new challenges for every church and every church leader. Thank you for growing in your knowledge as a leader and for sharing with and encouraging the leaders around you!