Vol 7 No. 28 Church Attendance

Dear Folks,

The topics of attendance, membership, affiliation, adherence, commitment and community come up in the summer when the attendance of a Sunday morning seems to be low; okay, maybe some of these topics rarely occur to anyone except me and an occasional treasurer (there, wasn’t that an unnecessary comment?!).

There are several Canadian scholars who are looking at the issue of adherence, attendance and some of the reasons for the changes we are observing.  More on those writers later and more on their ideas too.  I am very encouraged by the new churches in our midst and the new folk both seeking Christ and meeting religion and believe that we  need to reflect extensively on how the community of Christ’s body, the church, gathers on Sunday and through the week.  It’s complicated but enjoyable. Here are some preliminary thoughts.

There are a whole lot of ways to measure church attendance, membership or affiliation. For attendance one can do an average attendance for the whole year.  That is fairly useless, as most people understand that there are seasonal fluctuations. You can take a straw poll at the high points of the year like Christmas and Easter, but as many of you know, they aren’t the high points of the year because many people are away.  I always wondered whether you should take an academic year, modify it and then start measuring attendance just after Thanksgiving and quit just before the May long weekend and do an average of everything in between.  While membership is a topic for another blog, affiliation is applicable here. Affiliation is all those that are attached to the church in some way, shape or form. It may be through a DVBS, Urban Camping, or Youth Group.it may be through a neighbourhood service program, or regular attendance at a retirement home Sunday afternoon service.  I remember speaking to one church in the Heartland that told me their average Sunday morning attendance was several hundred strong.  When asked how many others were involved in their churches ministries, it quickly became evident that the number was almost twice that.

So the question for the day is: Are these measurements important? And do you have an effective way of keeping track? Would love to hear any ideas you have.


In Christ,