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Who I amReside in St. Louis Missouri currently, Lived in California & Colorado.Husband.Father.Pastor.Football Enthusiast.Teacher.Learner.Dreamer.Reader.Friend. [thoughts & comments blogged here are my reflections living life trusting Jesus as God]

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Church Attendance: Leader Perspective

If People don't go to church does it mean they don't care about their faith?
I had an interesting conversation with a college student last week about this question & the result of the conversation is this blog post.  If you follow my blog & are not fully invested in ministry, let me tell you a secret.  Pastors & ministry leaders can FREAK out when attendance is low, suddenly changes, shows inconsistency or "isn't quite what they thought the turn out would be".

Pastors know that sometimes a critical mass is necessary for certain events to happen.  Sometimes speaking to 40 people is more fun than 4.  Sometimes when a solid amount of people show up it creates a conversational buzz & more people wanna show up the next time.

But what happens when people don't go to church, does it mean they don't care about their faith?

My thoughts:
1--Yes it does.  In the Scriptures God used "groups of people" to meet together to lead, to pastor, to teach, to worship, to serve & to share life.  It doesn't take long for you to be removed from a faith community before your faith is affected.  Part of our relationship journey in our faith with Christ is about sharing it with others.  Jesus had 12 that he shared life, ministry & devotion to God with.  God instructed specific times of an entire nation to gather to worship Him.  When we gather we get to ask questions, seek prayer, serve together, study the Scriptures, worship, share gifts & talents, embrace communion & a whole lot more.  All of this happens WITH OTHERS.  Why would we NOT want to follow God's design?

2--No, they do care about their faith, but showing up to church is rough.
We live in "busy America"; Parents bend to the schedules of sports, musical, dance & everything in-between for their kids.  Some families have a parent who works on the weekends.  At times sleeping in on a Sunday isn't a perk, but a necessity for survival.  Just because someone doesn't show up for a church or a church event doesn't mean they don't care.  But even that needs a boundary.  How many weeks of a church gathering have you missed in a row?  Once in a while, no big.  9 weeks straight, there might be an issue.

For others they might actually have a hard time finding a church gathering group or setting that can really feel like home.  They have a hard time connecting deeper to the faith community & they want to do more than just sit in a pew.

I think it is dangerous when ministry leaders evaluate spiritual health of the body of believers they shepherd by spiritual attendance.  I can sit & read my bible every day, if I don't let it sink into my soul it is no better than reading the NY Times.  I can show up to church EVERY-TIME the doors are open & look the part.  But if my love & yearning for God hasn't increased & my desire to love & serve those who are lost doesn't well up inside of me then my church attendance is just face time for others.

I work with teenagers & young adults who are some of the most fickle, spacey, last minute planning people on the face of the earth.  There are always the consistent attenders, then the 2-3 times a month students & the student(s) who we'll see every 4-5 months.  I can say those that you can see spiritual health & growth in their lives are those who aren't just showing up to church, but engaging with Jesus.  They live out their faith & being an active part of a faith community is A PART of that.

I believe church involvement is a heart & priority issue.  If you do want to grow as a follower of Christ & with others share this faith journey through life as we are a part of how God wants to bring REDEMPTION to the world then find a faith community.  Find one you can commit to being an active part of & one that you'll wanna keep showing up at.

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