Staying Connected With Sporadic Attenders

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Self-identified North American church goers attend church, on average, just once per month. Thankfully attendance among CRC and RCA members has greater regularity.  Still, it is not uncommon that on any given Sunday fewer than 2/3’s of all members are present.

Inconsistency in church attendance creates challenges.  Sporadic attendance makes preaching series feel disjointed, comprehensive Bible training difficult, the nurturing of friendships challenging and the creation of a larger Gospel movement almost impossible. Most importantly, infrequent attendance creates spectators not contributors.

Providence CRC in Holland, MI recognized this challenge and is choosing a proactive approach to keep people connected even when they not present on Sunday mornings.

Here are five investments that keep members connected…

  1. NURTURING ANTICIPATION: Just as newscasters provide teasers before commercial breaks so Providence’s leadership constantly creates teasers that keep congregants anticipating what is to come.  Teasers include information about upcoming sermon series, specific reasons to be present for next Sunday’s worship, important congregational activities that are on the near horizon and opportunities for growth and involvement.
  2. APPLYING RELATIONAL GLUE: Nothing is more important for regular participation than strong relational glue.  People show up if friends and family will be present when they arrive.  Providence creates multiple layers of relational glue through dynamic small groups, great hospitality experiences, shared mission-focused trips and various fun activities.
  3. LIVE STREAMING: Recently, Providence added live streaming to the menu of options that keep people connected.  Quality cameras and careful sound mixing have made the experience of worshipping via technology a good option for those who cannot be present in person on any given Sunday morning.
  4. THE SUNDAY SHOUT OUT: Key to keeping congregants connected is the “Sunday Shout Out.”  Early Sunday afternoon an appealing e-mail  that is rich with graphics but sparse with words is sent to everyone on Providence’s e-mail list.  The Sunday Shout Out highlights important activities that took place on Sunday morning (i.e. children and student ministries lessons taught, key points from the message, congregational concerns, progress on congregational projects along with upcoming activities for the week).  The information from the Sunday Shout Out can be gleaned within a few seconds but builds an important connection to the current life of the congregation.
  5. PRAYER UPDATES: Throughout the week e-mailed prayer updates highlight health and/or personal concerns within the congregation along with prayers for various ministries or staff members.  These prayer updates keep people connected and provide an important link to the pastoral ministries of the congregation.

How are you keeping people connected?  If you have additional ideas please share then with the Church Renewal Lab at churchrenewal@calvinseminary.edu.

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