Bill Campbell

Thoughts of Life and Ministry

GOD AND THE ATTENDANCE BOARD

Most congregations I’m aware of today put great emphasis on their attendance board. To them the attendance board reflects the impact their congregation is making on their community. If the numbers are up, the congregation is doing well. If the numbers are down, weeping and gnashing of teeth is set in motion and can be heard throughout the congregation.

Additionally, the attendance board is predictably placed in a prominent spot. Congregations want everyone to see it. To view it carefully. For the attendance board will perhaps be a cause for current boasting and pride.  At other times it will set off an urgent alarm that calls for some immediate attention and remedial action. Something such as, another new church program to motivate church members and visitors to attend more regularly. Or, an effort to begin what I call the “blame game.” Penning the problem for declining attendance on someone such as the preacher or preachers.

In other words, concern with the attendance board enables congregations to incorrectly measure success or failure. Progress or retreat. Making headway or moving toward the cemetery. Knowing how many are present on any given Sunday is also joined to a concern with who’s there and who isn’t there.

It may sound like I’m making fun of the attendance board. Belittling it. Making it appear unnecessary. Making an urgent appeal to transport it to the junkyard. But that isn’t my position here at all. My concern is that we make more of the attendance board in a congregation’s success than we do anything else. It has become the reigning king. Yet, nowhere in the New Testament do I see any such over-emphasis and fanaticism.

A preacher of years past has made the following excellent statement: “Sometimes we are more concerned about the absence of the people than we are the presence of the Lord.” Was Vance Havner on target? Is what he’s saying true of your church? Does your church place the majority of its concern on the people who are there and who are not there? In the process, has your church overlooked the more most important reason for gathering: TO ENCOUNTER GOD IN THE PUBLIC WORSHIP TIME? HAS GOD BEEN INCLUDED ON YOUR ATTENDANCE BOARD?

Allow me to make a few observations at this juncture.

  • Could the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of congregations today be attributed to this wrong use of the attendance board? Have congregations given more attention to the people who are there than they have God?
  • Do congregations need to remove the attendance board from public view as a helpful means of getting the focus more on God than who is or who is not there?
  • Is it possible that our hearts have been positioned in the wrong place when we arrive at church gatherings? If the attendance board is our main concern and focus then this has happened.
  • Should we remove the attendance board, keep track of figures, but utilize the figures more in a wholistic way, as only one of many means of measuring a congregations success or failure? A congregations progress is not attached to the attendance board alone.

One church leader shared with me his concern and sense of guilt about using the attendance board as a lone measuring device. Thus, he indicated that when he counted attendance he would add the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to the number. Why? Because if God isn’t there, have we missed the major reason for why we’ve assembled and exist as a church body??

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July 4, 2013 - Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Relationships, Scripture, Spiritual Gifts, Spirituality, The Devil

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