How to Increase Church Attendance – The Ultimate Guide
You plan a beautiful Sunday service and then…your pews are barely even half-full. Has this happened to you? If it has, you’re not alone! Churches everywhere are struggling to increase – and maintain – their attendance. In this article, we’ll share some effective ways to boost church attendance. We’ll also look at some recent church attendance statistics.
When deciding how to get people to come to your church, you’re bound to feel a little overwhelmed. These days, church attendance keeps changing due to a variety of factors outside our control.
Public opinion about churches is changing, too. 57% of people surveyed believe the church has little to no impact on society.
But with the right mindset, there are plenty of opportunities to reignite your church attendance and change this perception. We share 10 effective ways to boost your church attendance in this article, along with some important facts about church attendance.
Church Attendance Facts
1. 31% of Americans never attend church or other religious services. Only 20% attend weekly.
This statistic from Statista shows the difficulties facing churches trying to increase their attendance. But hope is not lost!
Although weekly attendance might be down, other types of church attendance like hybrid church, biweekly, and even monthly are on the rise. Getting creative about your services can help grow your church attendance. And you may need to redefine what you consider “attendance.”
2. 77% of people with no religious preference said they weren’t interested in exploring religion in the future.
This statistic, collected in a Gallup survey, represents a challenge for churches – how do you connect with people who might not be interested in finding their religious home?
The answer will be finding other ways to connect with them! Community, companionship, and purpose are all things your church can offer.
The modern church needs to look beyond simple weekly services and think about how they can align their church with the experience most people have come to expect.
3. 1 in 6 Millennials stopped attending church during the pandemic and haven’t returned.
Younger generations have always been harder to reach than older generations. This statistic from Barna shows how the attendance of younger generations steeply dropped due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now more than ever, churches have to rethink their strategy for welcoming more people to their church and reconnecting with younger audiences.
This means updating your church’s role in church members’ lives. Instead of a mainstay, your church can become the anchor that helps its members navigate the ups and downs of life.
Now that we know some of the challenges facing church attendance, let’s understand why it’s so important.
Having healthy attendance affects so many factors for your church. It impacts –
1. Your community
The fewer people you have attending your church, the smaller your community and your opportunity to build more meaningful connections.
This affects the experience for your church members, as they’ll have fewer people to mingle with and rely on.
2. Your fundraising
Since only 1 in 5 churchgoers tithe at least 10% of their income, your attendance numbers can greatly impact your fundraising capabilities.
Church fundraising is vital because it allows your church to serve others and create valuable programming.
With decreasing attendance and the lack of cash use these days, online fundraising is the key to maintaining and even boosting your fundraising numbers.
Donorbox helps churches secure as many donations as possible through online and in-person fundraising. MinistryMatters is Donorbox’s dedicated church fundraising pillar with the tools, know-how, and support to help you increase your church fundraising – and your church attendance.
10 Simple and Effective Ways to Grow Church Attendance
Let’s look at 10 ways you can boost your church attendance in today’s tricky landscape.
1. Offer hybrid church options
Hybrid church involves both in-person and online services. It gives your church members the flexibility they’re looking for in our modern, convenience-focused lifestyle.
Your online programming can be as robust or simple as you’d like, but higher quality content will increase church attendance both online and potentially in person if someone is moved by your online content.
Hybrid church programming includes recorded sermons, podcasts, blog posts, and online tithing.
Donorbox donor management makes it easy to track someone’s interactions with your church through a Supporter database. Anytime someone makes a donation through Donorbox, their information is automatically added to your database. But you can also manually add Supporters, even if they haven’t donated (yet!). Here’s what it looks like to add someone –
You can also record your communication on a Supporter record so you know exactly when you should reach out next.
Carefully managing these relationships brings visitors back!
4. Have a “family and friends” day
Family, friends, and partners of your regular attendees are all opportunities to increase your church attendance.
Encourage your church members to bring their loved ones along for a casual sample service. Include a reception after to promote mingling so these guests can experience your community.
Pro tip: Ask guests to sign in to a guest book, kiosk, or connection card so you can send them a thank-you note and forward the latest issue of your church newsletter.
5. Launch a youth group
Youth groups are great because they create a support system for the youth of your church that is separate from (and in addition to) your regular service.
They can also help attract new people to your church. For example, if a teen or young adult is interested in joining a particular youth group, they might bring their parents along for regular Sunday service.
Similarly, Sunday school, Vacation Bible School camps, and other programs for younger children can be a big draw for parents.
According to Ministry Architects, the average church’s youth population makes up about 10% of their overall attendance. How does that fit in with your numbers?
6. Increase your fundraising
It might seem like putting the cart before the horse, but increasing your fundraising can majorly improve your attendance numbers.
With more funds, your programming improves in quality and has a better chance of catching the eye of a new member. Plus, the act of fundraising itself helps spread awareness about your church.
For example, launching a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign for your church allows people to fundraise on your behalf and share your mission with their network. With Donorbox, all you have to do is enable peer-to-peer on your campaign. Then you can choose to either invite specific fundraisers or allow anyone to fundraise on your behalf. Your fundraisers then make their fundraising pages to share with their network.
With more funds at your disposal, you have more resources to increase attendance and grow your church.
7. Host events and workshops
Events and workshops are great ways to connect with members of the community who might be interested in attending your church.
Workshops can range from cooking classes to group hikes but should include a fun activity to draw more people in.
You can use Donorbox Events to sell tickets to your events, even if you don’t charge admission. This is a great way to track attendance and gather contact info from those who wish to attend your event. Plus, once someone purchases tickets, they receive an automated email with information about the event and their digital tickets. Their tickets include a check-in code and QR code that you can either type in or scan to easily check in your attendees.
Check out how Zoe Ministries used Donorbox to sell tickets to their event –
We love how Zoe Ministries used the feature to show how much of each ticket is tax deductible. This adds an incentive for someone to buy their ticket and attend!
Did you know that 17 million people who don’t attend church check out church websites every year? Your website and online presence are key to converting these web visitors into church members.
Having a strong online presence will encourage more people to attend your services, whether they’re in person or online. Your website should be easy to navigate and attractive. Social media is a fantastic tool for churches, too, and should represent your brand identity.
Pro tip: Your online fundraising should be smooth and easy to use to make the best impression possible on new visitors to your website and your church. You can embed Donorbox donation forms directly on your website and customize them to match your branding for a seamless experience!
Offering volunteer opportunities is especially important to attract Gen Z and Millennials to your church. Over 69% of Gen Z who don’t go to church are interested in churches that provide opportunities for them to help others.
In addition to connecting with younger generations, volunteering in your community shows potential church members that you practice what you preach – literally! It helps build your reputation and serves your mission, too.
10. Send welcoming direct mail
Direct mail might seem like a dying art, but it’s still an incredibly powerful tool to get the word out about your church. Focus on the areas right around your church and send a postcard or flyer inviting them to attend a service.
When done right, direct mail can find someone at just the right time and bring them to your church.
Pro tip: You might also consider hosting a phone-a-thon to connect with members of your church who have lapsed. Sometimes simply checking in on someone goes a long way!
Decreasing church attendance can negatively impact your ability to serve your mission and your existing church members. Although things seem bleak in the world of church attendance right now, with a little creativity and perseverance, there are plenty of opportunities for growth.
Donorbox is here for you every step of the way. Whether you’re looking for resources on our Nonprofit Blog, podcast, webinars, or Library, or simply want to learn more about our products, we’re here to help churches with MinistryMatters.
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Lindsey spent years wearing many hats in the nonprofit world. Whether she was helping arts nonprofits with their messaging and content, planning a fundraising gala, writing an NEA grant proposal, or running a membership program with over 400 members, she learned how to navigate – and appreciate! – the fast-paced world of fundraising. Now, she loves sharing those hard-earned lessons with the Donorbox community. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.