It’s no secret that that number of people who go to church isn’t on the rise. If you’re a pastor or church leaders, you may have noticed a decline in your community. You’re not alone. A 2018 survey from Statista found that only 22% of Americans go to church every week. Even more surprising, 28% say they never go. If you’re already offering inspiring sermon series, quality youth and children’s ministries, and exciting volunteer opportunities, you probably find yourself wondering where you’re missing the mark. Before you start doubting your services, it’s helpful to ask yourself two questions. (Don’t worry, we’ll give you the answers, too.)
The experts at Pew Research Center asked over 4,000 Americans. The main reason people regularly go to church or another house of worship is to feel closer to God. 81% of the people said this reason is very import in regards to their attendance. Other leading reasons for going to church include:
The majority of survey respondents said they skip church because they practice their faith in other ways. The survey also found that 12% stated not having the time as the most important reason they don’t attend. Others said they don’t feel welcome or they haven’t found a church or house of worship that they like.
With answers to both of these questions, let’s explore some ways to boost your attendance—and not just on Sundays either! These are proven strategies from growing churches.
As we outlined above, there are many reasons why someone hasn’t been to church in a while. They could be a nonbeliever, or maybe life just got in the way. Regardless of the reason, returning to church after a long stint away can be intimidating. Do everything you can to make new visitors feel comfortable. Understand that they may want to ease back into religion slowly. Ask for their email and phone number so that you can offer them resources and more information. Remember, one of the most important keys to growing church attendance is member retention, and that starts with the first visit.
12% of people say they don’t attend church because they don’t have time. And they’re probably right! Think of it this way: when you’re busy, would you rather watch a movie or an episode of a show. Probably the latter. Try providing more services and sermons, but making them more succinct. Each one should be no more than 30 to 45 minutes and focused one on just one topic. This way people can squeeze in for a quick 30 minute lecture. And just like people who start an episode of a show, then binge the whole series, they’ll probably stick around for more!
Sometimes leaders are too close to their church services to identify opportunities for improvement. Try asking your parishioners for help instead! Send out a survey to both long-time church members and first-time visitors asking them about their experiences. Find out if your sermons could use a refresh or if you should provide better volunteer opportunities. Do they want to see other leaders up their preaching? The quickest way to find out what your church attendees want is to ask them. And if you’re looking for a simple way to send out questionnaire, consider using SMS surveys.
It’s hard enough for members of your congregation to bring in more believers. Asking friends who may be skeptical, or just not religious, is even more challenging. Make it as easy as possible for people to share their faith. Consider making one day of the week a “bring-a-friend day.” This will encourage group participation and make it less scary for the new visitors to come, because they’ll know there will be plenty of other fresh faces too.
Would you watch a movie without seeing a trailer? Neither would we. Many first-time visitors feel similarly about attending a church for the first time. Give potential members a sneak peek of what they can expect by posting short, inspiring videos from your sermons on social media. No need to have a professional crew to do this! Set up an iPhone on a tripod, trim down your favorite clips, then post. This will help spread your mission, and the word about your church.
At SimpleTexting, we’ve seen both large and small churches achieve success with text message invitations. It’s vital to keep in mind that you should never assume someone will attend. Even if someone has been part of your parish for years, you can’t treat them like they’ll always be there. Don’t just tell people about your your next bible study or worship service. Invite them. Craft your message so that the person really feels welcome.
Hi Alexa, this Thursday at 7 we’ll be talking about how to get closer to God through prayer. We’d love to see you there!
Ready to try texting at your ministry? Sign up for a free trial of SimpleTexting and start seeing full pews on days other than special occasions. Our support team is here to help with your church growth and communication. Just chat with us by hitting the blue bubble in the corner of the screen and we’ll get you up and running with our church texting service in no time.