5 Ways to Encourage and Maintain Church Attendance
I understand. Really, I get it. We all get it. Church is hard to get to. It’s the weekend, and we always meet in the morning when it’s sleep-in time. And when it’s not sleep-in time, someone has a soccer game or in-laws in town and need to get brunch or the rare family vacation. We’ll go for a friend’s baptism; we’ll go for Christmas, for Easter, or when we really feel like we haven’t been to church in a while. For some, it’s because church is so far away (finding a faithful congregation can be hard when Joel Osteen rules the American Christian world). For others, it’s because of those scheduling issues. But we need to get there. As the author to the Hebrews writes:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25
So without much significant ado, here they are: five ways to keep you going to church.
Join a Small GroupIt’s the weekly get-together with friends. Not just a class, but true fellowship time – what’s going on with Joe’s girlfriend, did Rachel get that promotion at work, and Mark and Daniella are getting married! But once the food is eaten and the socializing’s simmered down, it’s time to get “serious” – Bible study time. And how do you keep up with the conversation if you missed church, the sermon? Merely being prepared requires being involved. This is a huge encouragement to get to church on its own.
Rethink, Reframe, and Enjoy
A lot of getting to church is about changing our perspective. It’s not just tips and tricks to get us involved in the ongoing life of a local congregation, but about how we view church. Does getting up on Sunday seem like a chore? You tell your kids we have to make it; it’s a job. Can’t miss church, we say! Well, we can. But we shouldn’t want to. Consider this: Jesus Himself says that “the Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27). It’s a gift to you, for you. It’s not a law to enjoy His rest, and it gets even better. At the Last Supper, Jesus breaks bread and delivers it to His disciples, “saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you'” (Luke 22:19). And what is Christ’s body on Earth? The Apostle Paul uses the imagery of the Church as Christ’s body in several of his letters: Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 10:17 and 12:27; Ephesians 4:12 and 5:23; and Colossians 1:24. This body is for you. It’s a gift, where Christ meets you. Enjoy the gift. It’s not a burden. You don’t have to. You get to, and how much easier is it to get up and be refreshed at this incredible good news? It’s a party every Sunday morning, like a breakfast with great friends you haven’t seen in a while!
It’s not the same as actually physically being there, but if you want the good news delivered to you, there are so many options. Maybe you can’t make it to church due to traveling, maybe you can’t make it due to weather – I guarantee you there’s something for you. Lutheran? Messiah Lutheran in Seattle streams all their Sunday morning services. Baptist? North Valley has you covered. Presbyterian? Westminster Presbyterian. I could go on – but I guarantee you, wherever you are, whatever denomination you’re coming from, there are ways for you not just to watch sermons, but to participate with the songs and offering, a service as a whole.
Be Someone Else’s RideSomeone’s grandmother can’t drive anymore; someone else just had surgery and can’t get out the door; a family of four struggling to get by has their one car in the shop. All of these folks are part of your church community and need a little help getting there. Many churches have a volunteer program to reach out to shut-ins and bring folks in – join yours! If your church doesn’t have one, contact the office staff and start one! Then, every week, you’re responsible for someone else. How much easier is it to make it at that point?
Invite a Friend
Sharing your faith can be hard. I know it, you know it, everyone knows it! How do we convince folks they need Jesus? Crazy idea: we don’t. We don’t place all the pressure on ourselves to get to believe; we don’t need to know every page of our Bible inside and out; we don’t need to make someone else a Christian. We just need to show them to Jesus, and the Holy Spirit can work on the rest. So invite someone to church, maybe even regularly. They won’t go without you, and just like being someone else’s ride, you give yourself a reason to go. Plus, who doesn’t love a good Sunday brunch with a friend afterward to talk about what was heard?