Why Getting People Back to Church is a Dangerous Goal

How many people are back at your church?

That seems like the predominate, post-COVID pastor question, doesn’t it?

We used to ask, “How many people attend each Sunday?” But not now. The question has changed. Neither question is a great question. Nevertheless, it’s the most frequently asked question.

Today, it seems how many people you previously had isn’t as relevant as how many of those have returned. Every pastor is concerned with attendance return.

In this post, I directly address this new post-COVID “returning” focus.

Here’s my big idea: Everyone’s focus seems to be “getting people back!” I’m not sure that’s the right goal, though. I’m afraid too much focus on “getting our people back” to church will permanently shift our plans, leadership, hiring, and budgets in the wrong direction.

Here’s why: The more focused we place on keeping people, the less energy we spend on reaching people.

A focus on re-attracting those who aren’t returning turns us into a “keeping-focused” church. Here’s what I’ve learned in my decades of church leadership:

You can focus on reaching people or keeping people, but not both.

Here are 5 strategies to keep a reaching heart in a keeping-focused season of church leadership:

1. Don’t “think” like a church planter; ACT as a church planter.
2. Resist the urge to adjust ministry offerings for the vocal and absent minority.
3. Admit that some people will never return, no matter what you do.
4. Start over by focusing on what the unchurched and dechurched in your community need.
5. Thinks steps, not programs.

You can read all the details in the full article.

I hope this helps us all retain the correct focus in this post-pandemic church experience.

If I can help, let me know.