How to be a better online church attendee

At the beginning of the pandemic, I bet you thought the coronavirus was a blip.

I know I did.

We weren’t alone in that opinion.

Thinking everything would soon be back to normal, many churches didn’t really try to do a good job of online church.

And, speaking from the pew, I didn’t really try to do a good job of attending online church: I got to my computer, more or less on time, and sat and watched while my minister preached to an empty sanctuary while I and the rest of my church watched from our homes.

Oh, sure, I did some things:

  • I said hello in the chat of our Facebook Live stream.
  • I clicked “Like” on the odd comment.
  • Let’s see … was there a third thing? No … I guess there wasn’t.

So, I did two things.

I could have gone to the virtual coffee time after church, but I didn’t because, hey, it was all going back to normal soon, right?


Well … maybe not.

Is online church the new normal?

An April 30, 2020...

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Here is how to “lock in” a new church member for life — even in a pandemic

Do you think that once you have a new church member you’ve got them forever? Think again.

On this side of the grave, nothing is forever — and that includes church membership.

Here’s a shocker:

A 2011 study from the seminary at Wesleyan University reports that 82% of new church members drop out in their first year at a church.

Why does this happen?

Well, more than one new member who stops going to church confesses that they didn’t make enough friends. In fact, one writer says that if someone who’s new to your church doesn’t make seven new friends in the first six months, they won’t stay.

People don’t join a denomination. People join people.

Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that while people may join your denomination when they join your church, it’s the personal connections that make them stay.

Your congregation cannot take its survival for granted. A growing congregation is always reaching out, and the outreach...

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Do you make these stupid small talk mistakes?

I used to be terrible at small talk.

I used to think small talk was beneath me.

If something wasn’t profound, I wasn’t going to talk about it. I was going to speak only about the weighty issues of the day, the biggest things facing humanity.

With all the gravitas that a 14-year-old could muster.

But my mother did me a huge favor and made me talk in spite of my juvenile inclination. When she drove me to drama practice, or I went with her to pick up grandma, or she ferried me to my piano lesson, she made me talk about the little things of my day — and to ask her about her day.

I am no longer in theater, or have a grandma, or play the piano, but the lesson she taught me about making small talk is a treasure I use to this day. Thank you, Mother.

Why be good at small talk?

Mother taught me that the ability to make small isn’t a gift, but a skill. And it is a skill you can cultivate. In fact, it’s a skill that you must cultivate to get ahead at work, to get...

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How to stop your church from failing at growth

In a previous post I wrote about the 13 reasons why your church is drowning in emptiness. The first five were shyness-related excuses for why your congregation doesn’t reach out to newcomers. The final two reasons — six and seven — looked at how your lack of conversational skills can make things harder once you venture into talking to total strangers.

But there are deeper reasons your congregation doesn’t reach out. These are reasons at a congregational — or denominational — level that get in the way of taking the visitors in your sanctuary and turning them into friends.

Your church has drunk the cultural Kool-Aid

Some of the reasons for not connecting with newcomers to your service come from outside your church’s walls. These reasons are in your culture. They are so ingrained that you don’t lose them when you enter your church. Just as you probably wouldn’t begin an in-depth conversation with the people at the next table at the...

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Your church: 13 reasons why it's drowning in emptiness

I love summers at church because we don’t have a choir during the summer.

Not that I hate choirs — not at all — but rather than sit at the front of our church behind the pastor, the choir joins the rest of us in the pews.

So I love summers at church because, for ten weeks or so, we can kid ourselves into thinking that our church is full. Well, kind of full. There are still those gaps — okay, expanses — in the first four or five rows where almost nobody sits.

The tumbleweed zone

I call those first five empty rows the tumbleweed zone.

I live in the heart of farming country on the Canadian prairies, and tumbleweeds — big, dry, prickly bushes rolling along in the wind — bring catastrophic drought to mind. Back in the 1930s, the lack of rain killed the plants holding down the soil until the plants and soil blew away. And with no soil, there were no crops.

No crops = devastating poverty.

But if no crops meant poverty, newcomers to your church...

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Breakthrough: Why you and your church need to be friendlier

What made you want to grow your church?

People usually want to grow their churches because they want to keep their congregation alive.

That used to be me. And I’m not proud of myself for that.

For all the possible good things that my church could do in my community, I wanted to grow my church … well … uh … to keep the lights on.

It wasn’t about giving people hope, or maintaining a center to help the public in times of need, or being a community place where we can get our heads out of our navels and refresh our hearts with a spirit that dwarfs any 24-hour news cycle.

Keeping the lights on. Shame on me.

There are better reasons for growing your church than just keeping the lights on.

Here’s a better reason — a powerful one. Any church, of any size, can do it. It costs nothing. There are no committees to set up. No program to announce. One hundred people, or just you, can do this because it is about making a person-to-person connection.


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