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10 Questions More Important Than ‘What Was Your Sunday Attendance?’

attendance

On any given Sunday, even the smallest, simplest church service juggles an amazing array of complex issues. From set-up to attendance to events.

  • Set-up to tear-down
  • Relationships to administration
  • Spiritual to emotional
  • Planned events to unplanned interruptions
  • and more.

But too often we reduce the value of this beautiful, multi-layered gathering of believers, seekers, skeptics and hypocrites to one overly-simplistic metric. Namely, how many people showed up?

More Than Numbers and Attendance

Certainly, almost every pastor and church is grateful when church attendance is on the rise – myself included. And appropriately so.

It’s not that attendance figures don’t matter, it’s that too many of us have made those numbers the primary, sometimes exclusive focus of our attention.

This is misguided at best, idolatrous at worst.

We’re Not Selling Widgets

It reminds me of a complaint I often hear from fellow authors and artists about their publisher or promoter. Sometimes they feel like no one who works with them is concerned about the quality of their work, just how many units they’re selling.

Certainly authors, musicians and other artists care about reaching a bigger audience, too. But the size of the audience doesn’t matter if the work is shabby.

Unfortunately, a lot of church leaders are guilty of falling into the same trap – expressing more concern about the numbers than about the quality of the experience.

10 Better Questions

So how can we gauge the value of a church service? If we pay less attention to attendance, what should we pay more attention to?

My answer to that is “almost everything.” Yes, almost everything else happening in a worship service is more important than how many people are in the room.

For now, here’s a quick list of 10 questions that are always better to ask than “what was attendance last weekend?”

  1. Was Jesus the focus of our attention?
  2. Was the Bible taught well?
  3. Was hope offered to hurting people?
  4. Did anyone come to faith in Christ?
  5. Did church members love, serve and encourage each other?
  6. Were guests made to feel welcome?
  7. Is there more excitement about the future than longing for the past?
  8. Were any broken relationships healed?
  9. Are people more prepared to live for Jesus after having been here?
  10. Do people want to come back?

A Matter Of Priorities

Certainly, nothing on that list is new.

This article originally appeared here.

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Karl is the author of four books and has been in pastoral ministry for almost 40 years. He is the teaching pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, a healthy small church in Orange County, California, where he has ministered for over 27 years with his wife, Shelley. Karl’s heart is to help pastors of small churches find the resources to lead well and to capitalize on the unique advantages that come with pastoring a small church. Karl produces resources for Helping Small Churches Thrive at KarlVaters.com, and has created S.P.A.R.K. Online (Small-Church Pastors Adapt & Recover Kit), which is updated regularly with new resources to help small churches deal with issues related to the COVID-19 crisis and aftermath.