Why Are People Less Interested in Attending Your Church?

I recently listed 10 areas in our church where we are not satisfied. Nothing is necessarily broken, but there is room for evaluation and improvement.

The law of diminishing astonishment is partially to blame for a few items on the list, like decreasing attendance patterns from regular attendees and lack of enthusiasm within the upper grades of some family ministry departments.

This law reflects the reality of how extraordinary today begins to feel ordinary over time. For example:

  • People who attend our church for the first time can’t believe the musical talent. They are surprised by our excellence. And they are moved by their experience.
  • New guests love how we orchestrate the parking lot with volunteers and egress.
  • First-time families can’t believe how we prioritize their children’s experience — even texting parents during the service with an update if needed.

I could go on, but you get the point. In your church, a similar phenomenon is happening, too. People are walking in for the first time, and their initial experience is extraordinary. The problem is human nature. Because the experiences you are creating week in and week out are equally extraordinary. In many cases, the experience is improving over time as you evaluate and improve. But the rate of new can’t keep up with the human condition.

That’s the law: What’s extraordinary today will feel ordinary over time. The employees at Disney suffer from this law. People who live at the beach suffer from this reality. And so do the people attending our churches. It causes them to attend less frequently. It causes them to engage less prolifically. It causes us to want to quit.

Our initial solution is to create more new, different, and improving experiences. We’ve all tried that, and we’ve all failed to one-up ourselves over and over again. It’s impossible. There’s simply no way to move faster than the human condition. So what can we do?

How can we fight the law of diminishing astonishment?

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6 Strategies to Succeed in Portable Church (Discovering Permanent Success in a Portable Church, Part 3)

AT A GLANCE…

Read this if…
You are a church leader or church attender in a portable church environment looking for ways to help ensure success.

This post in one sentence…
Six specific ways we have learned to succeed in a portable church environment.


HERE WE GO…

As a church leader, I’ve spent the better part of my professional Christian life in portable church. I’ve learned a lot, made some mistakes, found some advantages, and experience success without a building. In the previous two posts, we discussed portable church challenges and opportunities. Let’s close this conversation by looking at the best ways to succeed in a portable context.


BRING ON THE PIPE AND DRAPE!

Any opportunity, regardless of size or potential, is worthless when not leveraged. In the world of portable church, this is certainly true. So many church leaders (and attendees) allow the challenges of portable church to overwhelm the possibilities. In some cases, I’ve even seen pastors lose their passion for the church in the face of portable challenges.

But being a portable church does not have to be a necessary evil while waiting for your own building. There are ways to make the portable church succeed, and in doing so, possibly influence more people toward Jesus than you could if you owned a building.

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Should Church Be Entertaining?

Is your church entertaining?

If you answered yes, I’m guessing you have received your fair share of criticism. Not from the unchurched, nonbelievers in your community mind you, but from Christians and other churches. For some reason, many Christians and church leaders have bought into the belief that religion must be boring. That church can’t be fun. I guess we’ve associated boring to reverent. Hyper-serious to “spiritual.” Enjoyment has become a line in the religious sand. If you have fun in a religious service, it’s not really religious, and God can’t be pleased, right?

I partially understand. As Christians, we take God seriously. We take His church seriously. Most things we take seriously come with a certain level of seriousness (nobody wrote that down, I’m guessing). It makes sense.

But boring is not biblical. It’s not a matter of truth. It’s just how we’ve positioned ourselves as the church. It’s how we’ve positioned religion.

Here’s my question: Can a church be entertaining without becoming entertainment? There is a difference. Entertainment serves one point: Enjoyment. But entertaining is different. Entertaining is enjoyment with purpose. Enjoyment with a strategy.

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Tip 6. Effective Discipleship (Shutting The Back Door in Your Church, Blog Series)

In this blog series, I’ve identified 9 tips to help keep people from leaving your church (i.e., shutting the back door). I believe all 9 are important. In this post, I’ll address tip number six:

TIP 6. Effective Discipleship.

What’s your discipleship strategy?

Hopefully you’re not stumped by the question. If so, you’ll definitely want to read on!

This question is one of a few that must be answered by every church. It’s one of the primary reasons we EXIST as a church. It goes back to that whole “go and make disciples” bit from Jesus!

Within the context of this blog series, we would say evangelism brings people into the church, but discipleship is what grows their faith. Beyond spiritual growth, however, discipleship plays a big part in keeping people at your church (i.e., shutting the back door).

Lack of effective discipleship is one of the primary reasons people church hop. We hear excuses like, “I’m not being fed,” which is often a cop-out, but behind that excuse is often a discipleship system issue.

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Tip 5. Relevant Preaching (Shutting The Back Door in Your Church, Blog Series)

In this blog series, I’ve identified 9 tips to help keep people from leaving your church (i.e., shutting the back door). I believe all 9 are important. In this post, I’ll address tip number five:

TIP 5. Relevant preaching.

Preaching is part art, part science.

Every preacher has a style (the art) and an approach (the science). Discovering your style takes time – especially if you listen to specific preachers consistently. It becomes easier to mimic the cadence and style of your favorite communicator than to discover and own your style. Maybe we should address this at some point.

But approach is different. Approach is science. Approach is that intentional side of preaching where you pre-determine what you hope to accomplish in and through your sermon. Often, your approach determines your outcome. In fact, the results you see today are a direct result of your approach.

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Tip 4. Consistent (not boring) Experiences (Shutting The Back Door in Your Church, Blog Series)

In this blog series, I identified 9 tips to help keep people from leaving your church (i.e., shutting the back door). I believe all 9 are important. In this post, I’ll address tip number four:

TIP 4. Create a consistent, but not boring, experience.

In general, people resist change. We like knowing what to expect. We enjoy consistency. But only when it’s excellent, of course.

Restaurant chains work hard to create consistent offerings. Even individual restaurants understand that inconsistent experiences drive customers away. Retailers need consistency in their offerings. Consistency is important because consistency keeps people coming back. And in our churches, the same is true.

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Tip 3. Create Memorable Experiences (Shutting The Back Door in Your Church, Blog Series)

In this blog series, I identified 9 tips to help keep people from leaving your church (i.e., shutting the back door). I believe all 9 are important. In this post, I’ll address tip number three:

TIP 3. Create a memorable experience.

Take a minute and consider some of your most memorable experiences?

There’s a good chance your best experiences then are the stories you love to tell now. The moments where you were touched. Moved. Wowed. Or maybe you just experienced something better than you anticipated (like Disney!).

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Does The Holy Spirit Like To Plan?

As a church leader, that’s a question worth asking.

At Watermarke Church, our services are very planned and strategically structured. I can already hear the comments building – How can the Holy Spirit possibly participate in a church service that is so planned and organized? What if the Holy Spirit wants the service to continue past an hour? What if God wants to move in the service and change the flow or plan?

Those are great questions. And I can appreciate them all. Unfortunately, I have seen far too many churches allow “room for the Holy Spirit” to become synonymous with “we’re just lazy,” but that does not necessary need to be the case. As a Lead Pastor, I believe we can be both strategic and planned in our services while allowing “room” for the Holy Spirit.

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So We Sang “Let It Go” From Disney’s Frozen in Church!

As a pastor, I hear it all the time – “Why did we play THAT song?” Maybe you do, too. Or maybe you ask it. Every time we begin our church service with a song from a non-Christian radio station, I know it’s coming.

I understand. We recently began our church service by singing these lyrics: “A singer in a smokey room, a smell of wine and cheap perfume. For a smile they can share the night, it goes on and on and on and on.” Okay – seeing it in written form feels a little sketchy (or a ton sketchy!). I may have a few questions for myself, now!

But let me ask you a question: What song is that lyric from? Did you smile as you read them? Or sang them? Are you still singing?

Here’s why we occasionally begin our services with music from Journey or Disney – because people like it. I know, that’s not profound. And I realize it’s certainly not theologically sound, but it is powerful. People like fun, familiar music. And that’s extremely important, because I’m convinced if people don’t like how their church experience begins, odds are they will not like how it progresses or ends.

To say it another way: If we hope to influence people toward their Heavenly Father, we must engage them emotionally in the beginning of our service to engage them spiritually during the service.

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