The Small Church Pastor and Church Attendance

Several pastors this week were admitting failing to maintain steady church attendance. Each one had experienced low attendance over the last few months and were concerned.

“What is wrong with my people, they use every excuse they can find to miss church?”
“We had a great outreach on Saturday but had our lowest attendance on Sunday.”
“Do people even care about faithfulness anymore?”
“We need our musicians, singers, and greeters to be at their post but they continue to miss and don’t even let me know they will be absent – what am I doing wrong?”             “When you pastor a church of less than 100 every person counts.”

Even though pastors have taught on faithfulness, pastors are struggling with a variety of lame excuses. From “the cat had kittens” to “my nose was running.” One person just “needed a day of rest,” after spending the day at a Fall Festival. “It’s like the church is at the bottom of the list,” a Pastor moaned. One light-hearted pastor quipped, “Well, at least this church is going down slower than the last one I pastored.”

But doesn’t attendance, faithfulness and spiritual growth matter? Yes, it does but let’s look at some of the problems with church attendance.

1. THE CHURCH IS LOSING MEMBERS – I started with the worst scenario. When members of your church are leaving disgruntled this is devastating to a Pastor who has been trying to do his best but couldn’t heal the rift. Prayer and fasting are mandated in such moments and a week in a secluded location can sharpen your leadership abilities in this time of crises. Show the remaining congregation strength and security by reassuring your followers and by being honest and hopeful.

2. THE ATTENDANCE IS LOW – There will be seasons of highs and lows brought about by vacations, health reasons, and holidays plus, in rural areas, harvest time. Pray and stay encouraged. Keep in touch with your absentees. No matter where you pastor or who you pastor, there will be absenteeism.

3. UNFAITHFULNESS – There will always be certain somebodies who treat church attendance as a guest instead of a member. Absenteeism is in every church and the unfaithful have the lamest excuses. Not surprising, many Baby Boomers interpret faithfulness as Sunday Morning attendance on every other Sunday. To add to the problem, unfaithfulness hurts the church finances because the unfaithful members rarely catch up on their tithe giving.

4. PLANNED ACTIVITIES – Many events are being planned on Sundays from Family Reunions, Birthday Parties, and Concerts and even, shopping. With the church being live streamed, multiple services throughout the week and online Bible Studies, it has become much easier to stay at home. Reading a devotional has been equated with listening to the Pastor preach the Word of God. Maybe the church needs fewer activities but more mission mandated activities.

5. THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM – Attendance is not the measuring stick of the Pastor’s success level. Many pastors are great men of God but lack a support system around them. Yes, spiritual growth and church health are anemic when faithfulness to the House of God is not taught but a pastor shouldn’t beat himself up because people have lost their desire. Preach the Word, stay in love with Jesus and continue to love people.

What can we do about it? Sometimes, nothing. If we preach about it – we are scolding. If we teach on it – we are critical. And, if we ask where they were, get ready to hear excuses from A to Z. So what is a Pastor to do?

• Realize absenteeism will happen. If it isn’t a habit – don’t make it a bigger problem. Things come up and people will miss for credible reasons.
• Don’t be too harsh but express heartfelt concern when you haven’t seen a member regularly.
• Pray for each of them and send a card or text every time they miss. Let them know you miss them.
• Be willing to change service times or days if you need to make it more plausible. We changed our Wednesday night service from 7:00 to 6:00 and served dinner for those rushing in from work.
• Quit saying, “Where two or three are gathered there am I in the midst of them,” every time you have a low crowd. Don’t excuse unfaithfulness. Preach your best message and worship God. Keep focused on Jesus and not on people who are missing.

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or professional advice.

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THESE GIFTS ARE NOT INTENDED TO BE USED IN THE CHURCH 2018 Favorite Post

God has intentionally and appropriately gifted people in the church to fulfill the mission and vision of the church. Some are God gifted people who are able and willing to, with their team, to accomplish the work God has set before them. They are a joy to the leader and are a resource to the church.

However, there are some who are self-gifted. Maybe sensing the need to do something they clamor for a position, desire acclamation and perform for applause. The gift is questionable to the leadership and may reach the level of obnoxiousness to the congregation. Some self-gifted volunteers can be redirected into a more purposeful and God-honoring area of ministry while others simply fade away to “use their gifts elsewhere.”

GOD GIVEN GIFTS exemplify the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.
SELF GIVEN GIFTS react instead of restore, resign instead of revive and resist instead of respect.

There are gifts NOT intended to be used in the church, in any church.

THE GIFT OF ASSUMPTION
Nothing is more disturbing to the leadership of the church than a person who assumes the worst and ignores the best. The negative attitude is carried through the sanctuary like a carton of rotten eggs. They presume and assume about everything and everybody. No, this gift is not based on evidence and certainly not based on facts but purely on speculation. No gift of discernment is evident just entire and complete fabrication based on “I thought I saw…”

THE GIFT OF INTERRUPTION
The “know it all” has an opinion on everything and everybody. They are often wrong but never admit it. They don’t mind telling you “how I feel about it.” Explanation, examination or exegesis is not a part of the conversation; interpretation is based on an interior motive of being right and winning the argument or the debate. Combustible when losing and celebrates others loses.

THE GIFT OF MAGNIFICATION
Making a “mountain out of a molehill” is the ulterior delight of the “magnifier.” Small is enlarged in their mind before all the facts are known. Taking bits and pieces they construct a castle of doubt and fear. Pastors are trying to deal with problems but the “magnifier” increasingly casts suspicion on the people involved. Making others feel smaller and themselves bigger is the role of the “magnifier.” The personal quest to build their own statue of holiness perceives everyone else as the enemy who is guilty until proven innocence.

THE GIFT OF MANIPULATION
Moving people like games pieces on a checkerboard is the goal of the “manipulator.” A buried desire to “straighten” other church members out is the outcome of most discussions. The motto of the “manipulator” is “do what I say don’t do what I do.” They have a hidden, interior design to have other’s follow their lead without question. Some will come back to the discussion table with manipulative statements, “You can’t make it without my tithes.”

THE GIFT OF AGITATION
The agitator has been hurt and they fling hurt wherever they go. “Hurt people hurt people,” and the agitator lives up to it. “Locked and loaded” is emblazoned across their forehead. Harm and hurt are left in the path of destruction. Stirring up trouble, living on demeaning actions and an incendiary attitude describes the agitator.

• Pray sincerely and humbly for direction. God has answers we haven’t seen.

• Slowly approach others who have witnessed this behavior. Others may be willing to agree and others may simply say, “That’s just the way he is.”

• Check their history – has it been an ongoing problem or something out of the clear blue? It may be pressure in his home or workplace or a serious health issue.

• Weigh it carefully before acting. Removing people from leadership is harder than placing people in leadership. And, having people leave your church is easier than gaining people into your church.

• Examine your own heart whether you are acting or reacting, shepherding or fighting; then proceed with the passion of Jesus.

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or professional advice.

PRIDE KEEPS SHOWING UP AND SHOWING OUT

Pride shows its hand in multiple instances when we demand our way over the lives of others. Pride loves applause, clamouring for center stage. We cherish the “pat on the back,” wish for acclaim, and we do all we can to win the approval of others. Not all talented people are proud, not all handsome or beautiful people are proud, not all rich people are proud. But richly defined, pride steals the attention for ourselves. Turning each conversation around to yourself, even when the story is about another person.

 

Pride is the epidemic of self, flesh puffed up. It majors on our territory at the expense of other’s needs. Craving the limelight, crashing the party, and pouting when not acknowledged. Pride is the onslaught of humility, the massacre of motivation and the destruction of benevolence. It is difficult to care for someone else when we are working so hard to build our own statue.

 

THE STRUGGLE FOR CONFIDENCE
We like to be accepted. There is a healthy approach to winning friends and influencing people while finding our confidence is in Jesus Christ. We are who we are, we do what we do, and we operate in the gifts by the grace and strength of our Lord Jesus Christ. Confidence is in a close and viable relationship with Jesus, to pull away strikes at our confidential level but to draw near to Him brings confidence to a higher level.

STOP CONSTRUCTION
Don’t build your own statue. Building yourself up is pride and is an indicator of inner needs of emotional security. Maturity ceases building confidence and security on “what I have done,” while humility stops construction of pride and confesses “all that Jesus has done.”

DEFLECT ALL THE GLORY TO HIM
We are a mirror, not a solar panel. A solar panel absorbs sunlight to generate electricity. While this illustration is not comprehensive, it illustrates the point. Pride is when we absorb the applause and praise for our self. A mirror reflects light and humility deflects praise to Jesus. One friend said it like this, “Give the glory to Jesus and not keep it to yourself.”

CONFESS ARROGANCE
Confess it to Jesus. We may struggle from time to time with pride. It will rise but with confession bring it to Christ and watch pride diminish in our life. Walk with the Lord each day and allow the Spirit of God to infiltrate your life.

 

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or professional advice.

THE SMALL CHURCH PASTORS FIRST THREE YEARS

Pastor Smith had pastored for two years in a small church and noticed some startling information. “If you pastor a church for three years, the problems you face are your problems, not your predecessors.” The problem was Pastor Smith was still facing a long-term board who refused his suggestions for change and much of the congregation contently enjoyed their Sunday dinners.

Pastoral statistics and church analysis and armchair coaches admonish Pastors, it will take three years for the church to become your church. Or, another comment, “You won’t notice any significant change until you reach three years or more.”

Under close observation though, a lot is weighing on this perceived “three-year” Nova.

 

A LOT DEPENDS ON THE PASTOR

WHAT IS HIS VISION? Does the pastor maintain a clear and consistent vision? Let’s be honest, your church may not look like the church down the road. Every church has its own personality. It may take two or three years to define the vision for the church. Pastor, you can bring your experience from the last church but you can’t bring your vision from the last church. Each church vision fits the church, the community, the people and by God’s directives.
WHAT IS HIS MINISTRY STYLE? There is a difference in a teaching pastor, a lead pastor or an evangelistic pastor. Each fulfills their gift and calling and each important to the ministry but each style will reveal varied results.
1Co 3:6-9 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.
The ministry style may see immediate growth in much-needed areas and be lacking in other areas of the church health.

 

A LOT DEPENDS ON THE CHURCH

WHAT IS AROUND THE CHURCH? A church filled with older people may have difficulty reaching out without prayerful introspection. Change may not be achievable in a short three-year span. However, if the church saw the need before the new Pastor arrived, the church may be ready to make immediate and significant changes. If the church doesn’t realize the need, it may take three years or more to convince the congregation of changes needed.

WHAT ARE THE NEEDS OF THE CHURCH? Finding the needs of the church and the needs of the community may be the key to making adjustments in the church. A church that majors on offerings and participants, only to watch both decrease, will complain about the problem but may not be willing to change progressively. Some church changes may be years down the road no matter how hard the pastor has pushed to make things happen. A wise pastor who finds needs and finds ways to meet the needs may have a better chance at making changes within the three-year window.

Causally speaking, three to five years a Pastor needs to make himself known in the community and the church, establishing his style of ministry and finding the needs of the church and community. However, the time for change may be shorter than three years or longer than five years, depending on the leadership and the congregational responses.

To begin the “three-year” process,
First, pray privately for a clear and consist vision for the personality of your church.
Secondly, begin to meet with the church regularly for prayer.
Thirdly, meet regularly with community leaders and your church leaders discussing your five year and ten year needs and goals.
Fourthly, check for funds to be earmarked for outreach and to equip the church for a change.
Lastly, communicate and implement vision with the church team (inner circle).

Three years may not be the turning point. A pastor may be able to baby step into changes before the first year and make one significant change in the second year. You may see the most important changes in your third or fourth year but time is not the deciding factor only God’s directive and calling on your life. Take heart, Pastor, all heaven is behind you.

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or professional advice.

Ten Commandments for Pastors

Preach on Heaven with excitement and preach on hell with tears

Love everyone the same and tell them often

Grow in the Word of God and teach others

Start planning for Sunday early in the week

Honor your wife/husband

Guard your heart, your mind and your spirit

Emphasize quality not quantity

Remember character and integrity is your greatest achievement

 Purpose to please God before people

Pray for your family, your church and yourself

Comment below: Can you add another?

Copyrighted by Jim Laudell. Material contained in this post cannot be reproduced or copied without permission from the author.