Five @ Free Flow Friday!

It seems as if I am always thinking about church membership, church attendance, discipleship, etc. I’m a pastor. It’s what I do. Recently I read several extremely interesting articles and posts about these very things – church membership & church attendance specifically.

Thus, the theme for this 5 @ FFF is about, well – church membership and attendance.


I would LOVE to read some of your thoughts on what you’ve read here. Let me know what you think and let’s interact in the comments section below.

#1. The Number One Reason for the Decline in Church Attendance and Five Ways to Address It by Thom Rainer

Stated simply, the number one reason for the decline in church attendance is that members attend with less frequency than they did just a few years ago. Allow me to explain.

If the frequency of attendance changes, then attendance will respond accordingly. For example, if 200 members attend every week the average attendance is, obviously, 200. But if one-half of those members miss only one out of four weeks, the attendance drops to 175.

Did you catch that? No members left the church. Everyone is still relatively active in the church. But attendance declined over 12 percent because half the members changed their attendance behavior slightly.”

Anyone seen this to be true where you corporately worship?

#2. The New American Religion: The Rise of Sports and the Decline of the Church by Al Mohler

While teams and fans are building powerful, cohesive communities—think Red Sox Nation or the legions of University of Alabama faithful who greet one another with ‘Roll Tide’—churches are losing followers. According to a 2012 survey by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley and Duke University, 20 percent of Americans ‘claimed they had no religious preference,’ compared with an unaffiliated population of 8 percent in 1990. Roughly two out of three Americans, a 2012 Pew report noted, are under the impression that religion is losing influence in the country.

Yes, this might be a historic day on the blog. I have allowed the words Rol. . . Ti. . . . on this site. Pray for me. 

#3. Donald Miller and the Culture of Contemporary Worship by Mike Cosper

So yes, I think Miller needs to be challenged and corrected. But I also think his comments reveal the tragic lack of spiritual formation in many of our churches today. They remind us that many Christians have no meaningful vision for why the church gathers; for why we sing, preach, and pray.   

The solution isn’t trying harder to please religious consumers and church shoppers. Instead, we need to look to the old paths, where the good way is, and keep telling the only Story that gives us a sense of ultimate hope in this tragic and broken world.”

The posts Cosper responds to can be found here (#1) and here (#2). I would love to know what some of you think. 

#4. 7 Ways to Respond as People Attend Church Less Often by Carey Nieuwhof

People who used to attend every week are attending 3 times a month. People who were around twice a month often now show up once a month. And attenders who used to come once a month are showing up half a dozen times a year.

This is true of rapidly growing churches, mega churches, mid-sized churches, Bible churches and churches like Connexus (where 60% of our growth is from previously unchurched people.)

You can get mad at people…but that’s not really that helpful. If all people get is judgment or ‘should have done better’ when they show up at your church, why would they keep coming? You don’t line up to be judged either.

There are fewer and fewer of us every year who

Feel guilty when we miss a Sunday (I do…but I’m a dinosaur…I know it)

Have a natural instinct to head to a gathering of Christians on the first day of the week.

Miss church when we can’t get there

Some church leaders I know wonder whether people will even attend physical buildings a decade from now. I believe they will, but maybe not in the droves people are even today.”

What would you add to his list of 7?

#5. The Scandal of the Semi-Churched by Kevin DeYoung

We’ve had Christmas and Easter Christians for probably as long as we’ve had Christmas and Easter. Some people will always be intermittent with their church attendance. I’m not talking about nominal Christians who wander into church once or twice a year. I’m talking about people who went through the trouble of joining a church, like their church, have no particular beef with the church, and still only darken its doors once or twice a month. If there are churches with membership rolls much larger than their average Sunday attendance, they have either under-shepherds derelict in their duties, members faithless in theirs, or both.

I know we are the church and don’t go to church (blah, blah, blah), but being persnickety about our language doesn’t change the exhortation of Hebrews 10:25. We should not neglect to meet together, as some are in the habit of doing. Gathering every Lord’s Day with our church family is one of the pillars of mature Christianity.

Okay – I KNOW there are some opinions out there! 

Ready, set, GO! 

(Ummmm, that means go ahead  and comment below.)


One thought on “Five @ Free Flow Friday!

  1. Rodney Wimberly says:

    I was struck by this quote from Mr. Mohler’s article, ““Why is it religion that must always accommodate?” asked the Archbishop. “Why must Little League and soccer league games be scheduled on Sunday mornings? Why create that conflict for kids or for their parents? Sports are generally considered good for kids. Church is good for kids.””

    I wrote down the following thought just this week:

    I have not watched a football game all year (another story but needless to say I found I had missed nothing). Last evening Jayne and I were invited to a friend’s house to watch the Seattle/Denver Super Bowl, so we went. We left as soon as the 2nd half kickoff was returned for a touchdown – just the week before I had been bombarded with emails from people who were appalled asking did I see what happened at the Grammys and containing links so I could go see myself; my response to them was if I wanted to watch this depravity I did not need their “help” in doing so, sadly I sorta lost it on my Pastor’s blog (hope he will forgive me) – now back to last evening, as Jayne and I past darkened church after darkened church she said, “Guess no one goes to church on Sunday night anymore like we did growing up.” We talked about it, what Sunday night used to be like and it got me to thinking, a dangerous prospect to be sure; I remember when the NFL was done by 6 PM so folks could go to church and would have never dreamed of broadcasting a game on Sunday night for the same reason but something happened, God’s church gave up on Sunday nights, conceded defeat to the world, and shut down His church on Sunday night and now wants to act shocked at how depraved the darkness is, especially when His Light has been willingly turned off by those entrusted to keep God’s Light burning.

    There is a radical business theory called the 180 degree theory which says that to break into a stable, stagnant market (do not think an inappropriate description of the church as a whole today), you look at what everyone else is doing and then you do exactly 180 degrees opposite. Perhaps the time has come for our churches to get radical again and call God’s people away from the television set and back to Him before we can no longer even dream of doing so, freedom must be exercised and the freedom to worship is no different, because once freedom is lost the price to regain it is so enormous that majority are content to live in slavery and the tyranny of the majority is still tyranny.

    How odd that the reasoning the churches have employed to stop having church on Sunday night, is the same reasoning that an individual employs to decide to skip church on Sunday morning.

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