After the Big Day

Understanding the Ebb and Flow of Church Attendance

Every church enjoys special days throughout the year. Easter and Christmas usually top the list of special holidays; but in addition to holidays, there are patriotic services, revival services, Bible conferences, and missions conferences. All of these special days are an important part of a growing church. These special days provide an opportunity for members to invite friends, celebrate anniversaries, and highlight specific ministries. These special days usually produce an increase in attendance and excitement. It is encouraging to the preacher and members to see the church filled or at least to experience an increase in attendance for this specific day.

Every preacher enjoys basking in the goodness of God for all the blessings this weekend provided. However, this great Sunday is almost always followed with an unusually low attendance. Who hasn’t been disappointed to discover a low crowd with many of the normally faithful people missing on the Sunday after a big day? A church planter should not be discouraged by this phenomenon; it is part of the normal ebb and flow of church growth. Remember, the maturity of believers requires time. Hence, there will always be those who have not learned to be faithful to all the services. There is a common sense reason for this unique occurrence. Since most of the less mature members came to the big day, more of them will miss on the following Sunday. Usually the attendance balances out so that people are not gone on the same Sunday, but when the church has a big day the probability of more people missing the next Sunday will increase. This does not suggest that big days and special days are a bad idea—they help churches grow.

Charting church growth is not always easy and it requires time to determine definite trends. A church could have one big day where the attendance is doubled followed by a lower than normal Sunday the next week. That does not make the big day useless. Special days produce visitors’ names and addresses which can be followed up by visitation. This visitation can lead to souls saved, which can lead to more baptisms and the necessity of more discipleship. Without the big day, fewer names are available to visit. The more people who visit the church, the greater the probability that some will get saved and become faithful members. If a preacher fails to understand this process, he may give up the whole idea of promoting special days.

Big days give faithful members an opportunity to work harder to get family and friends to visit the church. People’s faith will be stretched as they believe God for great things. The spirit of the church will become more exciting and Spirit-filled when people anticipate God working.

Church growth can be compared to mountain tops and valleys. The object of healthy church growth is to increase the mountain tops and decrease the valleys. The high days should become higher and the low days should become higher. There will always be low days and high days. The key is to understand this normal ebb and flow of growth where the lows are higher and the highs are higher.

I fear that some new preachers who fail to understand this phenomenon will give up evangelizing the lost because those low days discourage them from making the necessary effort to create growth. We must resist the urge of quitting or even slacking off our work ethic. Sometimes it is necessary to just simply “keep on keeping on” even when there seems to be no growth in the church. You may be surprised that about the time you are ready to give up, God takes over and does something special that only He can do. Why not plan a big day?

If this article was a help to you, consider sharing it with your friends.