Last week The Leadership Centre Willow Creek Canada presented Bill Hybels in a coaching session with about 120 church leaders in Surrey, BC.
After fielding questions on a wide range of church leadership topics, one question in particular caused everyone to lean forward in anticipation of Bill’s response.
The question: “What advice would you give to a pastor whose church’s attendance has plateaued?”
Bill responded immediately: “I’d say ‘Call a meeting!’ Gather the congregation together and teach them the importance of the weekly gathering. I’ve done this at Willow, and I would usually give them four compelling reasons to make weekly attendance a higher priority. Would you like to know what these four reasons are?”
Not surprisingly, pens were poised to jot down Bill’s four points.
1. Jesus made it his custom
Bill quoted Luke 4:16 where it says that Jesus went to gather with God’s people “as was his custom.” In other words, Bill pointed out, if gathering with God’s people on a weekly basis was important to Jesus, it ought to be important to all of us.
2. Scripture instructs us to gather regularly
Bill quoted Hebrews 10:25, where Christians are implored to “not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.”
3. In the weekly gathering, room is provided for God to do something in our lives.
Bill related several incidents where God has ministered to him in profound ways during a weekend service, leaving him to realize the blessing he might have missed had he chosen to skip attending the worship service that weekend.
4. It’s important to model regular worship for our children
Bill reminded everyone that children take their cues from their parents, making regular church attendance all the more important.
Bottom line? If your weekend attendance has plateaued, there may be an important step to take before launching a new marketing campaign to attract new visitors. It might be time to challenge your existing congregation to make the weekend service a higher personal priority.
How have you tackled the issue of plateaued attendance?