Q&A Wednesday: How can I build my program when attendance is sporadic?

Welcome to Q&A Wednesday! These questions were originally featured in my premium newsletter subscription Treasure Box Tuesday. If you’re interested in getting the latest, including special freebies and discounts, please learn more HERE. Premium subscribers have access to a private Facebook group and their questions are the ones I answer! This question was originally sent out to subscribers on January 7, 2020.

Today’s question is one I get all the time, and it’s about keeping families engaged when attendance is sporadic.  (Note: per the above) that I originally sent out this answer in January of 2020, before all of the changes we have experienced during COVID19. I feel like the advice is still strangely relevant, though.

A. Though I could talk all day about this one, here are my top 4 things to consider when it comes to irregular attendance, which is the reality in most churches. 

1. Reign in a culture of complaining about the reality — Create a culture in which complaints must be followed up by solutions. When it comes up at committee or council meetings, I’m often very blunt. If people say “Our families only come one time per month, if that!” I respond with “Yes, and that is a reality that is unlikely to change. What can we do to nurture the families that we have, when we have them?” 

2. Strengthen faith-at-home practices for families. One of the reasons I pour so much energy and attention into faith-at-home practices is because I know that I will simply not see families more than 4 hours per month, and that’s on the generous side. How are parents empowered to do faith-at-home with their children? If you’re new to offering faith-at-home options to families, I recommend you check out my first book Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home or the Faith Jar in my Etsy Shop

3. Create and nurture online communities where people can stay connected in between Sundays at church. Facebook groups are great for this, as well as digital newsletters or other online forums for staying updated, connected, and “plugged in.” If you create a Facebook group for a particular small group or Bible Study, you can keep the conversation going for those who were present as well as inviting others who weren’t present to chime in. Online communities are not a substitute for “real” community. They are communities unto themselves. 

4. Make sure your leadership works hard to know everyone’s name— When families have sporadic attendance, it’s hard to remember their names, particularly when they’re relatively new to the congregation. And yet, few things contribute to a sense of isolation and alienation as much as not being known by name. Some people are great at remembering names. Put those people in charge of giving a briefing to the rest of your team. It might not seem like remembering names has anything at all to do with sporadic attendance, but I promise you, there’s a connection there. 

5. **New** Strengthen Online/Hybrid Options — Now that we’ve done all the work of getting engaged online/digitally, we can use that work to help strengthen the connections to families through online options, streaming, etc.

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