Just read a post about church attendance on SBC Voices called “Church Attendance: What Makes a Good Church Member?”
I think this is a very good question. I’ve been a pastor now for a little over a year. When I first came to the church, I tried to be clear that church attendance mattered, but it wasn’t everything. I often said things like, “I’m not the kind of pastor who would insist you be here every time the doors are open.” But you won’t hear me saying that anymore. It’s not that I don’t still hold to that line of thinking, but rather I’ve noticed that those whom I’ve said it to are more likely to be less committed to being there for any reason, whether it be a vacation or a mild headache.
But where do we draw the line? Do we write it in the church covenant and practice church discipline over it? I don’t think so (although churches in history have done exactly this). But if not, then can we really distinguish between regular and good church members based on attendance? Obviously there’s a difference between the person who attends twice a year and twice a month, but what about the difference between the person who attends twice a month as compared to the person who only attends once a month? Can you really call one of them a better church member than the other?
I don’t have an answer to all this. But I do have a thought. Rather than focusing on how often, maybe we should focus on how much. How much is the person involved in the ministry of the church? How much is the person growing in their faith? How much is the person being an active participant in worship, using their gifts for the edification of the body? In addition to church attendance, these are all indicators not of being a good church member, but of having a heart changed by God. Isn’t that what we should care about?
I’m not saying we shouldn’t care about church attendance, but that we often care too much about it, and that it should be seen as one of many heart indicators.