Helpful article about church absenteeism by Murray Lean at Gospel Coalition Australia.
It’s most pitched toward leaders, but the content is helpful for everyone concerned about personal and corporate spiritual growth and well-being.
Among the accessible content is a list of the downsides that sporadic attendance cultivates:
- Loss of the “spurring-on effect” of regular interaction with other believers
- Gaps in the continuity of systematic Bible teaching
- Inability to commit to serving in Sunday ministries, especially children’s programmes
- Impact on children who miss the regularity of involvement in their weekly Sunday groups
- Increase in the workload on the “committed core” who are faithfully there week by week
- General discouragement of the rest of the church family who miss out on the fellowship of friends
- Poor example to children and less mature Christians
- General devaluation of the Lord’s Day
- Weakening of overall connection with and commitment to the local church family, and enhancing the privatizing of faith
And there’s also a list of suggestions about how to respond pastorally:
- Remind people from the pulpit of the positives of regular attendance, including its impact on others in the church family
- Preach relevant passages that reinforce commitment to the local church, and also the harm caused by absenteeism
- Ask yourself whether there are good reasons why people can’t be in church regularly e.g. Does the time of the service need to be more family friendly? Is the preaching boring?
- Make a note of people who are irregular attenders and speak personally (and gently) with them about it. Some might have good reasons for their irregularity. (This obviously requires some form of record keeping.)
- Use elders, small group leaders and pastoral carers in this process
- Work at building fellowship within the church family e.g. meals, hospitality, creating a space for mingling after services
Read the whole post here.