5 Quotes to Help Us Understand Church Attendance

Is attendance to one’s local church optional or is it mandated? Is church attendance something that someone can do when it is convenient and nicely fits into his or her schedule or is it something that is to be prioritized? How important is church attendance?

This is one of those topics where balance is needed.

On the one hand, we must avoid the legalistic approach that says if you are not in church at least three times a week you can’t be right with God. On the other hand, we must also avoid the mindset that says church attendance is not important at all. It is crucially important. How can we claim to be committed to Christ and yet treat the visible manifestation of his Bride as an afterthought?

Here are a few quotes from another church’s membership policy published by 9marks.org that I found helpful.

1- “Faithful church attendance does not earn salvation, nor does it act as a measure to rate spiritual greatness over and against other people. It does, however, reflect a growing commitment to the gospel, the good of the church community, and spiritual health.”

2- “We understand this commitment to mean that members will make every effort to be present to worship.”

3- “Faithful attendance honors Christ and builds up His church. Non-attendance moves in the other direction. It makes light of His name and harms His church in many ways and for many reasons.”

4- “Everyone who bears the name of Christ—as affirmed by a local church by calling them a “member”—yet who willingly chooses to live their lives apart from the covenanted community of believers is practicing identity theft. They’ve taken Christ’s name, but they don’t honestly identify with his body, the local church. Living unaccountable lives, they make evangelism harder for other Christians, because, often, they aren’t living like Christians.”

5- “New believers need good models (Acts 18:24-26; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Titus 2:2-6). When the doctrine they’re taught doesn’t sync with the models they see in the absentees, they become confused.”

Believers should prioritize attendance to a local church. As the quotes above indicate, it is more than just a habitual routine. It reflects commitment to your spiritual health and to your church’s spiritual health.

How to Know When to Eliminate (or Change) a Ministry in the Church

One of the challenges of leading a church is knowing when to make changes to established ministries. It is not always necessary, but at times it is needed. How do you know when it is necessary? There are actually some questions you can ask that can clue you in to the proper decision. Here are 4 of them.

1- Is the ministry or program helping the church accomplish its mission?

The church should have stated objectives that are centered on the Great Commission. The ministries or programs within the church should be helping the church accomplish those goals. If it’s not, then it is a hindrance to the overall church. If time, effort, energy, and resources are being poured into a program that is not helping the church pursue its mission, then you may be guilty of poor stewardship.

2- Are lives being changed because of the ministry?

The goal of ministry programs is to see lives changed. If certain ministry programs are not accomplishing that goal as effectively as it should, then perhaps you need to change to something that will have a greater life-changing impact.

3- Does it contribute to balance?

Under the overall umbrella of your church there are several sub-categories such as children, youth, young adults, and sr. adults (the list could go on and on). Each one of these sub-categories needs to be balanced in what they offer. For instance, if your church has a youth group, the programs for the youth need to accomplish the different aspects of the church’s mission, such as evangelism, discipleship, and worship. If 75% of what you do is focused on evangelism, then discipleship may be ignored. If everything is focused on fellowship and discipleship, worship or evangelism may be minimized.

There doesn’t need to be multiple aspects of a ministry seeking to accomplish the same thing. Structure each aspect of ministry to accomplish a specific task, but be sure that task is not already being accomplished.

4- Are there plenty of volunteers to support the ministry?

It is hard to maintain a ministry if there are not enough people to serve in that ministry. A lack of volunteers may signal that people do not believe in the ministry. They may not view it as worthy of their investment of time and energy. This is not always the case, but it is not uncommon. Church leaders must be able to look at such a situation and determine the reality.

Ministry is about stewardship. The time, energy, and resources that you have at your disposal need to be managed well. This means that having ministries, programs, or events that are not helping the church accomplish its purpose or mission contribute to poor stewardship.

While making the decision to eliminate or change a program or ministry may be difficult, it may be necessary.

3 Mindsets that Contribute to Church Revitalization

There are many stagnant or declining churches in the US. While it is certainly beneficial to try to determine what has led to the stagnation, it is equally helpful to understand how a church can be revitalized. Here are 3 mindsets that contribute to revitalization in a church.

1- A Sense of Urgency

Complacency is the opposite of urgency and it can kill churches. Urgency says that there is work to be done, there is no time to lose, and opportunities can be lost if we stall. Urgency understands that there is something at stake and immediate action is needed.

For some churches what triggers the mindset of urgency is the realization that their church is dying. For other churches what triggers this mindset is the realization that they are not seeing lives changed.

Here’s the truth: complacency always leads to death in a church. Cultivate a sense of urgency.

2- An ‘Others First’ Mindset

Churches that are on a downward trajectory usually have a ‘me or us first mindset.’ The ‘me first’ mindset says that the church is here for me. It is here to meet my needs, align with my preferences, and make me comfortable. The ‘me first’ mindset is not concerned with reaching or ministering to others. Those with this mindset simply want to be catered to.

The ‘others first’ mindset says that “I will lay my preferences aside for the sake of reaching others.” It says “the mission of the church comes first.” It says “I am willing to be uncomfortable for the sake of advancing the gospel.”

Churches with a ‘me first’ mindset will never reach others.

3- An Eternal Perspective

Many churches that are dying have a temporal perspective rather than eternal. The questions that usually guide their decision-making process is incomplete. They ask “what do we need to do right now?” The question they should be answering is this. “What can we do right now that will have the greatest eternal impact?” If we do not have an eternal perspective we will not make the right decisions.

Churches with an eternal perspective are passionate about making a difference for eternity. They are more concerned with building God’s kingdom than their own. They are willing to say no to certain programs and ministries so that they can focus on those things that have a lasting impact.

It is hard for a church to make an eternal impact without having an eternal perspective.

Churches who want to experience revitalization, first have to change their mindset regarding ministry. They must realize that eternity is real and that Jesus is coming again soon. This realization leads to a sense of urgency that is focused on others and attempts to make a difference for eternity. Churches who do this will experience true revitalization.