Whenever I do any type of consultation with a church, I ask to see attendance records. And though it is not a rule without exception, I typically see three to four spikes in attendance.
Most church leaders don't realize the reasons behind these spikes. They, therefore, do not plan strategically and prayerfully.
I understand numbers are not everything in the health of the church. But we would be negligent if we did not see the gospel opportunities in reaching new people who might come during one of the spikes.
1. Easter. Reason for spike: More inactive and less active church members attend, often to make their annual token appearance. The attendance growth is therefore the result of most of the church members showing up at the same time. Easter is typically not a day where a large number of the unchurched people show up.
2. Christmas Eve. Reason for spike: More unchurched persons attend. From an evangelistic perspective, Christmas Eve services may be the most important services of the year. Many unchurched are attracted to the traditions of Christmas, particularly those demonstrated in Christmas Eve services.
3. Mother's Day. Reason for spike: Mom desires to have many family members attend church together. The spike thus is typically a mix of nominal Christians and non-Christians. The spike of Mother's Day is usually not as large as that of Easter or Christmas Eve.
4. Contextual/Planned Day. This spike may be the result of the church's heritage. I remember in two rural churches I served where the annual homecoming was a big deal. I know an urban church that goes all out to honor first responders on a high-attendance day. A number of churches plan a day to invite unchurched persons. We will soon be releasing a resource of that nature called "Invite Your One."
We have two important reminders about the four common high-attendance days. First, each day must be prayerfully and strategically planned with just as much effort going to follow up. Second, it is very difficult for congregations to put the energy into more than four high-attendance days a year. They become counterproductive past that point.
I am aware of one church that builds its community outreach around these four major days. As a consequence, the church sees average attendance grow 2-3 percent for each event, or about 10 percent a year. It has been a very effective ministry and outreach approach.
Let me know what your church does to be strategic about these potentially four high attendance days a year. I always love hearing from you.
Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.
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