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The nine most common low attendance days in churches

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By Thom Rainer

Church leaders have pretty clear perspectives about low attendance days.

They know when to expect them. Some are common across different regions and cultures. Others are unique to specific localities. Most of them are painful for pastors and other church leaders.

So, when I put the question out on social media, the responses were fast, funny and, sometimes, furious. I doubt there will be many surprises on this list. They are still good reminders we are all dealing with the challenges of commitment. Here are the nine most common low attendance days in order of frequency of response.

  1. Spring break. “We get hit hard on both the weekend before spring break and the weekend after. I’m ready to move to a church in a retirement community.”
  2. Holiday weekends. “Labor Day. MLK Day. Memorial Day. You name it. As long as there is a long weekend ahead, our folks will find an excuse to miss church.”
  3. Bad weather. “We don’t get much snow, so any accumulation above 1/1000 of an inch sends people to get milk and bread at the grocery store, and makes them stay away from church lest their lives are at risk with such dangerous precipitation. But they will be okay to go to work on Monday.”
  4. Good weather. “We miss as many folks in really good weather as we do in lousy weather. They will stay away if there is a 5% chance of rain; but they will really stay away if there is a 20% chance of sunshine. The lake calls.”
  5. Sports. “Travel teams. College football. NFL. Kids playing soccer and football. In the Old Testament they worshipped false gods. We still do today. They are called sports.”
  6. Summer. “Our attendance always takes a hit in the summer time. Vacation. Staycation. Sleep-in. When schools out, any excuse works.”
  7. Time change. “Let’s see how loud the businesses would scream if the time change took place on a weekday. It’s really convenient to hurt the churches.”
  8. Pastor on vacation. “I’m almost to the point of not letting anyone know when I go on vacation. When the pastor’s away, the members will play.”
  9. Christmas to New Year. “Whether that’s one or two Sundays, it’s always lousy for us. Bah humbug.”

What are the low attendance days in your church? Have you found an approach to countering these trends? Let me hear from you.


This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on Apr. 8. Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and ten grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

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