How Do You Get People to Attend Church More Often?

How Do You Get People to Attend Church More Often?

August 6, 2014 by

When I talk with other church communicators, the conversation about church attendance often revolves around a perceived “consumer” mentality. The style of sermons being taught, the “cool” factor of the children’s area, the type of music played during worship, or whether beverages are allowed into the service all affect whether or not people attend church. It all comes down to personal preference.

While some of these factors may indeed be at play in your attendance numbers, church management software research website Software Advice recently released a study that suggests there may be more substantive issues to address.

In the survey, people who attend church sporadically were asked what their church leaders could do to get them to attend more often. The graph below shows respondents’ top five answers.


The study drilled down further into each of these answers, and that’s where I found some insights relative to church communication.

1. Convenience

People want a church close to home, with worship times that fit their schedule. This isn’t an issue of self-centeredness; it’s an issue of time. The number of hours Americans work in a week has been steadily rising since the 1970s, and extracurricular activities and schoolwork take up much of whatever’s left. It’s no surprise that people are more likely to attend church if it doesn’t take up too much of their disposable time to do it.

Weeknight and Saturday services got roughly equal preference for alternative times, followed closely by online services.

Takeaways for church communicators:

  • Consider offering multiple service times.
  • We can focus outreach efforts within a short radius of our church. 72% said having a church near their house was the most effective motivator, so find ways to be present in the neighborhood and remind people that you’re close.
  • We could consider live streaming services online or uploading them sooner on the weekend. Going online might be easier than adding a weeknight service.

2. Community

People crave opportunities to build relationships with other members. Of those who indicated personalized ministry was a top motivator, 43% said that they want more member meetings and activities.

Opportunities for church communicators:

  • Talk more about the connection already happening in your church—potluck dinners, fellowship meetings and ministries that bring people together to serve a common cause.
  • Highlight the stories of lives changed through being part of a community.
  • Use your church Facebook page to foster a sense of community. It’s a great place for stimulating group conversations and promoting the activities happening within smaller communities in a church.

3. Meaning

A final statistic I found interesting was that 17% of respondents said they would come to church more frequently if there was more personalized ministry. They want to be able to engage with their church, its leaders and fellow members in a more meaningful way. Some ways to personalize ministry include pastoral involvement (e.g., calls/visits from leaders and receiving prayer and counsel: 28%), Q&A before or after a sermon (18%), and the congregation contributing to sermon ideas (suggesting messages on topics that were relevant in their own lives: 18%).

Opportunities for church communicators:

The top motivator in this area, a whopping 37%, was personal member stories—a golden opportunity for church communicators. Our congregations want to hear from others with similar struggles who have made it through with Christ’s help. Some ideas:

  • Have members share their own stories on video or in person.
  • Add a story blog to your website and invite submissions.
  • If your church captures personal testimonies for baptism, membership or other faith milestones, find ways to share them in print, video or web.

Has your church addressed sagging attendance frequency by congregants? What have you found helpful—or not? Please comment below!

Photo by La chica de medias rayas
Post By:

Karen Shay-Kubiak

Karen Shay-Kubiak is director of communications for Elmbrook Church, a single-campus megachurch located in Southeast Wisconsin. She is also a closet tech geek who loves things like Evernote, online forms, project management systems and anything else that promises to help her squeeze more out of a day's 24 hours.
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