Many churches have experienced a decline in attendance in recent years. There may be various reasons for this change. People may have become disillusioned with church in general. Concerns related to the ongoing pandemic may place church attendance low on their priority list. Whether your services are held completely in person or you are trying to meet new preferences with online or hybrid options, these basic strategies for improving church attendance can help.
Find Out What Is (and Isn't) Working
If your church's attendance seems sparse, it may simply be that what you are offering doesn't meet the expectations or needs of the people in your community. That may be a hard pill to swallow initially, but accepting that you need to make changes is the first step on the path to more robust engagement. Start with members who are on your roster but haven't shown up to services recently. The pastor or other church leaders can reach out to let them know they've been missed. This is also a good way to discover if they have needs that the church can help meet.
Other members can provide valuable feedback as well. You may have a good idea of what needs to be changed, but the only way to know for sure is to ask. An online survey is a great way to get the answers you need quickly. It should be comprised of five to 10 multiple choice questions as well as an open-ended inquiry that invites respondents to make additional comments that they believe are pertinent. Identify themes in the responses and implement changes as soon as possible. Just knowing that their opinions are considered a valuable part of the decision-making process can increase commitment to attend more regularly.
Increase Your Publicity
If member surveys indicate an overall satisfaction but participation is still low, the reason may simply be a lack of awareness. You can do everything right and still not achieve the attendance level you want if no one knows about what you offer. A review of both your internal and external publicity efforts may be in order.
Low member engagement in activities can be a sign that you are not giving people adequate notice of programs so that they can make plans to attend. If you only announce an event the week before it happens in the church bulletin, you are limiting publicity to people who both attend that service and take the time to read everything they're given. Try tweaking your efforts to include bulletin notices for several weeks prior to the event as well as a couple of announcements at the start of service and an email blast to the congregation. You may be delighted at how big a difference this can make.
To attract potential new members, you need to have a solid online presence. Many people won't even visit a church unless they like what they see on the website or social media. There are many ways to make your online presence more engaging:
- Post photos or videos of recent church events
- Have a clearly defined mission statement
- Share posts from community partners to amplify your support for them
- Give timely feedback when people comment or ask questions
Encourage Members To Invite People
One of the best ways to boost attendance is through personal recommendation. People tend to trust their friends' judgment more than that of an organization. Encourage engaged members to invite people they know whom they believe can benefit from what your church has to offer. An enthusiastic invitation may be all that people who are seeking a place to belong need to decide to attend.
No matter what the specific reasons your church has for low attendance, there is a way to improve. Make the changes that are necessary to attract and retain more people.