Plot lines …
· Although we can aggregate numbers and maybe understand why average church attendance is in decline, without asking people why they come to church, we’ll not know why specific people come to a specific church, or why they stop.
· If a church knows specifically why a person or family comes to church, aren’t they more likely to be in a position to meet that need?
· If people’s needs are not met, they will eventually get them met in different ways.
If you pay attention to the “church industry,” you understand that the number of Americans who say they regularly attend church is declining. And based on a number of studies, average church attendance is down too. So, fewer people go to church and the people who do go attend less often. But do we know why?
One way to understand why people go to church less often is to better understand why they go to church in the first place. According to an article posted by the Pew Research Center on August 1, 2018, “the main reason people regularly go to church, synagogue, mosque or another house of worship is an obvious one: to FEEL closer to God.” The second most common reason is to help build a moral foundation for their children. Honestly, I can believe the second reason more than I can the first.
I think most people believe that God is everywhere, so why would someone go to church to feel closer to God. An interesting aspect to this answer is if I FEEL closer to God, am I closer to God? I believe the primary reason this answer came out on top was because the question was probably multiple choice, and that was the ‘most likely choice’ on the list. Maybe, the real underlying answer is they wanted to LEARN how to BE closer to God? But that is conjecture on my part.
However the question is asked, I think it is a very valid question. But the real question is why does a particular person come to that particular church? If a church wants to keep people coming back to that church, shouldn’t the church ask its guests why they decided to visit there in the first place? If they continue to attend, then the need is being met; if they don’t, perhaps their need to attend either goes away or that church is not meeting the need of that person or family. Should a church care more about the reason if the need is not being met, versus the need goes away? The former is definitely a fail on the church’s part; the latter may actually be because the need was temporary and appropriately met and it was time to move on.
Similarly, shouldn’t a church periodically ask its members and frequent attendees why they continue to come to church? Like guests, if people stop coming or come less frequent, perhaps it’s because their needs are not being met, or the need is met in another way, or even the need has gone away.
If you can see trends in your data as to why people come and go, perhaps you are in a better position to adapt to the changing needs of people as they happen. What if people are leaving for reasons that you think your church meets well? That would be a definite time for self-reflection and inspection; perhaps even time for an outsider to come in to evaluate just how well you really do or don’t meet those types of needs.
And once a church begins to ask why, where should that information be tracked and reported? If your current ChMS doesn’t track it, then maybe in a spreadsheet? But we all know that spreadsheets are not integrated to the congregation records and can easily become islands of dead data. If you are interested in how Chapter stores and reports this information, complete a demo form and let’s compare notes.
You are always welcome to reach out to me if you want to discuss ideas about church systems. Drop me an email at jhook at communitastech.com or text me at area code (214) and number 668-9807. We can even set up some time to exchange ideas over the phone or face-to-face when we are in the same city in the near future. Technology is rapidly changing the ways people live, for the sake of the next generation, the church cannot be left behind. I look forward to hearing from you.