In the previous article, we discussed several strategies for finding a new home church. In the current article, we will be discussing strategies for improving church attendance.
Church attendance will be defined as any physical appearance to Sabbath services and/or other church gatherings intended for Bible study, prayer, and worship, including midweek prayer meetings and Friday night vespers.
Regular church attendance is an essential tool for growing and maintaining your faith. As young adults seeking to remain in God throughout our college years, we should be diligent in studying God’s Word and worshiping Him with fellow believers. “Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25, NIV).
If your desire is to improve your church attendance, I hope you find the following tips helpful!
- Attend church in person. A growing number of Adventists stream their Sabbath services online. Online services have been a great advancement for our church, particularly because they deliver worship services to locations in which church accessibility is an issue. Although generally a good resource, online services could hinder spiritual growth when used as a substitute for attending church in person; they lack an interactive aspect of worship that contributes to the maturity of faith. Whenever possible, attend church in person and take advantage of the benefits of being among other believers.
- Develop an early Sabbath-prep routine. When I was growing up, Friday afternoons were reserved for Sabbath prep—cooking, cleaning, ironing. My biggest challenge as a student, however, has been maintaining a Sabbath-prep routine within the scope of a busy schedule. In my early years of graduate school, attending Sabbath services began feeling like getting out of bed for an early class. The organization that I grew up associating with the Sabbath had slowly begun to diminish. Recently, however, with much-needed support from my church peers, I have learned that doing a small amount of Sabbath prep throughout the week (e.g., buying groceries on Thursday nights instead of Friday afternoons) results in a smoother transition into the hours of the Sabbath. Developing a gradual Sabbath-prep routine could help you, too, achieve a stress-free church attendance routine.
- Attend other church services besides Sabbath morning worship. Church attendance does not only refer to attending church on Sabbath. Smaller, more intimate church services (e.g., prayer meetings and Friday night vespers) promise the same divine presence that is promised on the Sabbath. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20, KJV). Expanding your understanding of church attendance to include services offered beyond the Sabbath will increase the number of gatherings you can attend. This will hopefully encourage you to attend midweek services if there has been interference in your Sabbath service attendance.
- Open up to members of your church. Your church family is responsible for more than just knowing your name and treating you with kindness. Leaving town? Give members of your church a heads-up. Feeling overwhelmed? Request a word of prayer. Uncertain about an important decision? Seek counsel. Carrying a heavy load? Ask for relief. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, NIV). Establishing a more intimate relationship with your church family could make your church attendance experience similar to coming home to a loving family after a long day of work.
- Join a ministry you are passionate about. Once every month, my church visits and sings with residents at one of the nearby nursing home facilities. This nursing home ministry has been an incredible bonding experience because it has allowed members to work as a team outside the walls of the church. Last year, one of the young ladies who has been an active participant in the nursing home ministry moved to another city to start a new job. Since her move, however, this young lady has driven many miles to continue attending our church every week, despite options to attend other Sabbath services conveniently located near her. When I asked her why she decided to keep attending our church, she told me that she could not fathom leaving her ministry with the church behind. She said, “I have to keep coming so I can keep participating in the music ministry, especially at the nursing home.” Hearing this instantly made me see the impact that being involved in ministry could have on an individual’s church attendance. My prayer today is that you find a ministry you are passionate about. Not only the kind of ministry that will encourage you to attend church regularly, but one that will also encourage you to serve with purpose.
In the introductory article of this series, we learned that about one in every three young people eventually leaves the church. One way of working against this statistic in our own lives is to ensure that we are attending church regularly and surrounding ourselves with a strong support system of believers. Church attendance will teach us, encourage us, and equip us with the tools we need to stand firm in our faith. “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:10, NIV).