For a long time, clergy have taken credit when attendance rose and felt guilty when it fell. Most people assume that the best measure of a congregation’s spiritual vitality is the headcount at weekly worship. But some congregations have begun to think beyond that metric and focus more broadly about how their ministry transforms lives. As a result, they’re finding new ways to think about worship, vitality and effectiveness.
“I only have my son every other weekend and he doesn’t like church, so I don’t come those Sundays.”
This is the voice of a church member attending a committee planning session I recently led. She was clearly an active member, committed enough to the life of her congregation to spend 4½ hours talking on a gorgeous late summer Sunday when she could have been outside playing. But, as you can see, she only attends church every other Sunday at best. For her and many others, Sunday morning church attendance no longer is a primary identifier of active membership. It is now just one way among many of being active, and for some it may even not be important at all.