May 6, 2020by Reverend Dan on May 6, 2020
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, I urge you, in view of God’s mercy, to offer yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.”
Just before the Coronavirus I was looking at some church statistics from 2019 regarding attendance at worship. It seems a good bit of the Christian nation was concerned about declining attendance, so I wanted to see if there were any issues that could reveal the downward trend.
Of the 40% of Christian Americans who consider themselves to be “very religious”, this was the breakdown of actual church attendance (+/- 2% variance).
23% attend every week
10% attend 2-3 times a month
12% attend once a month
24% attend on holidays
29% never attend
Let’s take a church with a membership of 500 and see how that translates.
115 attend every week
50 attend 2-3 times a month
60 attends once a month
120 attends on holidays
145 never attend
Then the COVID-19 hit, and the attendance was . . . 0. And when I thought about it, I thought I could hear God snickering;
“You’re worried about the wrong thing.
If you get people’s hearts right, they will come.
If you get their focus on the Word, they will come.
If you preach the truth, they will come.
If you concentrate on serving others and compassion and caring, they will come.
If you make people understand they need me, they will come.
If you work to make true disciples, they will come.
But if all you’re going to gauge your success on is how many behinds are in the pew on any given Sunday, you’re using the wrong meter for determining the success of the church.”
Now I hear attendance (on-line) is increasing every Sunday. Folks are seeking God in droves. And who knows, maybe getting the church down to 0 in attendance was what it took for God to open our eyes to what church is really all about. (I knew a pastor who took over a church of about 100 people and four years later is was 5,000. I asked him what his secret was, and he said, “First thing I had to do was preach it down to about 4 people. I pruned the church and then it had room to grow”.)
I’m not in any way saying that the Coronavirus is a result of God starting the virus just to get attendance at church back up. I’m saying God works for good in all things, so even in this awful time, He is finding a way to bring us a message of renewal.
Worshipping as a community is vital for it feeds and nourishes and encourages us. But using church attendance as the be-all, end-all meter of how successful a church is, is not a great practice. Reaching out and being the hands and hearts of Christ is why we are here. That should be our primary act of worship. Get that right, and attendance will take care of itself.
“Father, Help us to worship you not just in a pew, but with our lives as well. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.”