How do you disciple people who don’t show up? How much can preaching, Sunday School, or small groups help new Christians and disciples grow when they are irregularly present? Commitment is a sign of maturing but is often missing today.
In Why Church Members Are Attending Less Frequently, Thom Rainer lists six reasons for irregular attendance:
- They are more mobile.
- They are more affluent.
- They have more options.
- They consider church optional.
- They have not been challenged.
- They are likely not active in a small group.
The first three are beyond our control. But we have options for the last three. What can we do to address these reasons for attending less frequently? Consider the following:
- They consider church optional. Many have never been taught about the responsibilities of disciples and the value of assembling together with the body of Christ. They often attend not because of lack of commitment…to anything else. But if something “better” comes along, they are gone. Work, fun, and rest are all acceptable alternatives.
- They have not been challenged. Pastors and teachers are often afraid to confront the issue for fear that those who irregular attend may just drop out. But what if in a loving way we point out the impact of the practice and mindset of irregularity on themselves and their families? The shepherd pursues the lost sheep, and lost sheep deserve to know the consequences of wandering. What message does irregularity send to children, guests, and friends?
- They are likely not active in a small group. Many attending less frequently are not in Sunday School or a small group. Or they no longer attend. Those with six or more relationships in a group usually attend most regularly. Those with two or fewer relationships are often dropouts. Further, those in groups are more often regularly in the Word resulting in a stronger relationship with the Lord.
What can you do to address these three reasons for attending less frequently? How can you raise commitment and understanding about the value of faithfully attending? How can you loving challenge those who are irregular? How can you encourage Sunday School or small group involvement by those attending worship–irregularly? These reasons deserve attention. Discipleship matters. Be a disciple. Make disciples!