Engagement Before Attendance

Like many of you, my Church upbringing was reasonably traditional… for a Pentecostal.

Reasonably small, independent Church with a big heart and a radical, fire breathing, pastor which saw significant growth in the late eighties and early nineties.

However, like a number of churches from that era, their success was also their demise, as they are still creating services that are indistinguishable from the services of over 25 years ago. Even the pastor is the same.

In fact the dizzy heights of technology leads them to a basic website and recording CD’s.

Doing the same thing and expecting different results

It seems that the saying “doing the same thing and expecting different results” is lost on them.

Please don’t hear me wrong. I am amazingly grateful for my time there. I developed a strong faith and a solid biblical knowledge from someone who knew the bible inside out and back to front.

It is just that things haven’t moved on.

One of the key teachings of the church (as in many, many churches) is that attendence is important.

We are told that we need to attend all manner of events, from bible studies, gender focused sessions, prayer meetings and (in some more enlightened churches) vision nights.

The prevailing wisdom is, the more you attend the more you will engage.

The problem with this is, as you may have guessed, the world has moved on.

With the average attendance of a committed Christian (according to Pew Research) at about once a month, it is clear that something is wrong.

We need to turn it on its head

As many observers have noted, this concept of attendance drives engagement needs to be turned upside down.

Engagement drives attendance.

This should not come as a suprise to us. Look at the way the world consumes things like apps. Easy to get hold of, but just as easy to stop using if the app is not engaging.

We need to focus on getting closer not bigger

The challenge for the church is, for us to drive engagement, we need (sorry for the cliche) a paradigm shift. We need to focus on getting closer to our people rather than trying to drive attendance.

How many times do we hear “2018 is going to be a year to push the church further” rather than what we should be saying, which is “2018 is the year where we are going to get closer”.

The good news of course is that with the technology that exists today, creating engagement is easier than ever. It just not ever thought about with intentionality.

Online forums, polls, interactive preaching, podcast, b/vlogs, VR, AR… the list is endless.

Good engagement requires good planning

It is just that, in my experience, it is often not really very well planned with intentionality.

Where a sermon series may be planned months in advance, the thinking around our technology is often based on rushing something out to tick a box, or promote something, without really thinking how to make it engaging for the audience.

But of course, that is a whole other blog.

I will leave you with this question “What are you doing to use technology to drive engagement and get closer to your people?”

Please do write and let us know your thoughts, it is great to hear your views (even if you disagree with me).

About Digital Church

Here at Digital Church, this is our passion. We want to help Churches recognize the opportunities and then give them the strategies, tools and practical help to put it into practice.

Please do reach out and contact us on hello@digitalchurch.com, if you are interested in how we can help your church or organization.