Ways To Get the Congregation Back for In-Person Worship
Faith & Family

Ways To Get the Congregation Back for In-Person Worship

Ways To Get the Congregation Back for In-Person Worship

Well, well, well, aren’t you comfy there slouched in your recliner, wearing your bathrobe and fluffy slippers, watching your house of worship’s weekly service on your laptop or your phone like it’s just another TV show? Sure, technology kept us connected during pandemic lockdowns, and being able to participate remotely was a blessing. But by summer 2022, most congregations were back to holding in-person services. A funny thing happened, though, when they reopened the sanctuary doors—attendance was disappointing. Those who’d been viewing services remotely were reluctant to get dressed and come back for in-person worship. On the upside, congregations found new participants online, extending their reach beyond their geographic locations. But to retain these remote members, it may be necessary to beef up production values for online services, which may go beyond many congregations’ budgets. What to do? Instead of accepting attrition in your congregation’s in-person ranks, try some of these ways to get the congregation back for in-person worship.

Emphasize Social and Health Benefits

Attending religious services regularly is good for your health. Studies have shown that people who regularly attend religious services have lower rates of depression, anxiety, and addiction. The benefits of the social support network people get from church attendance are substantial.

To pull people back in the doors, emphasize these upsides while assuring congregants about the steps taken to protect their health. Such measures may include social distancing, adding services to spread people out, masking, and ensuring those who aren’t feeling well stay away until they’re cleared to socialize.

Reinvigorate Youth Programs

Honestly, y’all, I don’t know how you parents of little kids made it through with no school, no daycare, and no organized recreation. Religious congregations can get people back in their doors by offering robust family-oriented programming and youth services for children from pre-school through high school. Identify a core group of volunteers willing to host your children’s educational programming and remind parents that you’re there for them and their kids.

Communicate Effectively

Highlighting the social and personal aspects of attending services will get you further than focusing on scripture verses. Tell your congregants you miss them and give them something they can’t get online (free food is reasoning enough for me, y’all!) to encourage them to come back and socialize. The concept of a congregational “family” is real to many people who value the community connections they make at weekly services.

Invite New Members

You may have to accept that some members just won’t come back. That should spur efforts to invite new members. Choose an outdoor church sign that extends a warm invitation, expresses your leader or congregation’s personality, and sparks interest in those who drive, walk, or cycle past. This is an old-school but effective way to get people to come for in-person worship.

Hybrid online and in-person work and worship are probably permanent aspects of post-pandemic life. But the need for shared purpose plus community and social connections is still strong. Congregations that emphasize how they address those needs will retain members and might even continue to grow. Now, let’s all get off the couch and head out for some community service opportunities with fellow members of our congregations!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons