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Preaching in Light of Low or Infrequent Church Attendance

Ultimately, he encourages preaching in order to shape the affections of the listener. There are ways to do this with our preaching topics or texts. We can talk about church as a 24/7 community by preaching the “one another” passages in the New Testament or highlighting how Jesus showed compassion to people. Our preaching should include this heart connection (pathos) alongside our logical (logos) and application (ethos) connections. We should attempt to talk about the church as Christ’s body, like Paul does, so that our congregants understand if one suffers, we all suffer, and if one is honored, we all rejoice (1 Corinthians 12:26). The “church” in our sermons cannot simply be a building—it is the body of Christ on earth of which we are all members. The author of Hebrews recognizes the importance of the church meeting together frequently as well in order to build one another up and encourage love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Slayton also suggests adjusting our sermon introductions to be more accessible to the daily lives of the typical congregant in our churches. He says, in order “to help those who are present engage with the sermon we must set the table for them so they have the context in which to understand the message.” He adds, “A great place to start is by finding something people have likely been thinking about during the week and then turn their attention to the Bible.” 

We may be tempted to complain or even to shame people for their declining attendance. Instead, let’s show ways the Bible matters and create a hunger to know God through our preaching. This helps our congregations start to connect themes of the Bible with things they may encounter in their daily lives.

(Auburn Powell contributed to this article and throughout this series.)