Would You Admit This If it Were You?


Recently, I came across a church website (a nicely-done one, by the way) advertising a church that I have no doubt has effective ministry in many respects. But one thing struck me as so oddly/sadly out of place: the church admitted to the following two facts:

1. We have an average attendance of 1300.

2. We have a church membership of 3600.

Question: wouldn’t that embarrass the stuffing out of you? Would that be the kind of thing you’d admit (dare I say even “brag about”) on your website? Making the reasonable assumption that a decent percentage of that “average attendance” (let’s guess low and say 10%) consists of folks who aren’t members of the church, is the fact that two out of three of your members don’t bother parking their butts in church on Sunday morning a source of pride, or deep, deep embarrassment? No…let’s be even more charitable. Let’s assume that on any given Sunday, 20% of your membership is out for acceptable reasons (travel, illness, etc.), and let’s also assume that in a church of that size, 2% of the membership consists of “shut-ins”. OK, I’ll amend my numbers: wouldn’t it embarrass the socks off you that 1/2 of your membership rarely if ever darkens the door of your church?

Seems to me that very high on the list of priorities for a church such as that is purging the rolls of the deadwood. It’s a matter of discipline, a matter of accountability, a matter of integrity, and a matter of the glory of God.


  1. Derlin on March 25, 2009 at 12:29 am

    I can understand why a church might advertise it’s average attendance. However, I can’t think of a good reason to advertise membership numbers. I have no idea why you would advertise a pair of numbers like that showing that only 1/3 of your roll shows up in a best case scenario. (Maybe they’ve grown so much recently that instead of three services each Sunday they went to an every third Sunday schedule to share space.) Unless they’re dealing with some special situation though, a roll purge is certainly in order. Of course, convincing those in authority (and the congregation that keeps them there) that a purge is right and proper and beneficial is hardly an easy task in most churches.

  2. Graham on March 25, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    There are large evangelical churches which for reasons of capaicty have to have more than one morning service. Are the attendance numbers those for an average service or for Sunday as a whole?

  3. Byron on March 25, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    I’m quite sure that this church is reporting its numbers for the whole. No doubt. Churches never underplay their numbers; never. At least not evangelical ones, and particularly the ones from this denomination.

  4. Todd on March 25, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Its gotta be Baptist….I know cause I are one!

    • Byron on March 26, 2009 at 8:05 am

      Uhh…no comment.

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