Bible study leaders can be encouraged and take heart – your work is not in vain, although you might get depressed pretty quickly when you consider the attendance patterns of your group members. The average church-going person today is attending about twice a month. These are some of our most committed members, too. George Barna predicted this back in the early 90’s. He declared something very similar at that time. He said that within a few short years we’d redefine “regular attendance.” He said that loyal, committed church members who attend 50% of the time would be some of our most dependable and steadfast people. Looks like he nailed it.
Two Kinds of Attendance
If you are a group leader, or the leader of your church’s groups ministry, you might want to think about tracking two kinds of attendance these days:
- Average attendance – This is exactly what it sounds like. Take the total attendance for the month, divide it by the number of weeks, and wha-la, you have an average attendance number for each week of a particular month.
- Active attendance – This number will be larger than the first one (average attendance). It recognizes the fact that although you may have 20 people in your group as an average attendance, you actually have taught perhaps as many as 35 people over the course of the month. Why? Because the 20 people who are the average attenders are not the same attenders each week! Some will be the same, but there’s a group of people who come and go each week. The impact of your groups ministry is much larger than average attendance would tell you it is. A church with an average Sunday School attendance of 200 may actually be reaching and teaching 300 people over the course of a month – and that’s exciting to think about.
I would not look at one of the above measures of attendance to the detriment of the other one. Look at them both, know what they tell you about your group and/or your church, and be encouraged that your ministry is probably larger than you think it is.