Irregularity: Addressing Every-Other-Week Class Attenders

Sunday 10th June, 2007

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On the way out of class today, a member remarked that all but three people were different from last week. For many classes, this is not unusual. People travel more today. Jobs require catching flights to distant cities. People vacation more frequently. Families are more scattered across the nation and world. Some are working longer hours and weekends and choose to rest on Sundays. Children's sports teams and other organizations are playing/meeting on Sunday.

So does that mean that we should accept irregular attendance patterns? I had someone ask that very question this past week. My response was that irregular attendance is likely a symptom of a lack of connection in Sunday School. Relationships are not in place, not deep, or are being taken for granted. And those relationships go both ways. Classes often don't respond when an individual is out, and the individual does not feel missed or mind missing. If their best friends in the whole world were in class, they would not likely want to miss.

How can we intentionally address those relational dynamics in an effort to impact irregular attendance? Here are a few ideas, but the floor is open to you. Press the comments button below to leave your ideas and experiences. Help others who will follow. So add to the following:

  • follow up every time persons are absent;
  • when they miss, express your genuine care and let them know they were missed;
  • ask key class members to invest in relationships with some whose attendance patterns are beginning to change;
  • use care groups to make weekly contact with members and prospects--can lead to some additional relationships over time;
  • contact, pray together, and remind them of the next fellowship;
  • plan regular class fellowships and make sure absentees get written and phone invitations/reminders;
  • plan outreach and ministry projects where participants can get to know one another differently than they would in social times;
  • give every member a class responsibility--this will often increase faithfulness;
  • develop prayer partners who pray together before class begins and between classes;
  • communicate how upcoming lessons will help them to live out their Christian lives in the world;
  • explain the benefits of regular attendance for themselves and their children;
  • have an attendance and/or contact competition with another class during a quarter;
  • use icebreakers to help class members get to know one another in fresh ways (can lead to affinity discovery); and
  • divide the group during the Bible study into small groups (3-6 persons) for discussion.

I realize for some individuals that this issue is a matter of spiritual immaturity. Irregularity can be just one symptom of this. One way to address this broad issue is intentional discipling, perhaps even mentoring, of those whose attendance is irregular.

What else would help? What have you seen work? I don't believe merely accepting the problem without attempting to address it is the right response. Avoid accepting mediocrity. Be revolutionary!

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