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hope for churches in stress

Changing Metrics

It is a rare church where the entire church family is present every Sunday.

Even so, most people attend one or more times a month. For smaller churches, it is helpful to take attendance person by person, month by month. In this way, people are counted by a more comprehensive (and encouraging) measurement.

In addition, it is good to “prune” the church directory less often. In Jesus’ parable of the unfruitful fig tree, the vinedresser was unwilling to cut down the tree; instead, he loosened the soil, put on manure, and waited another year for fruit (Lk 13:6-9).

When people are not attending regularly (or at all), it is good to stay in contact—without pressure or expectations. By keeping names in the directory for a time, the church is reminded to reach out to these people with gentle, considerate, patient love.

Counted by month, a weekly attendance of 50 can double to 100. By expanding the directory, the number can double again to nearly 200 persons.

This may seem like playing with numbers. But the full picture of a church family recognizes that people are in different stages of spiritual development or distress, yet all of them need the unconditional love of Jesus, expressed through his faithful people.

A church that emulates the Good Shepherd cares for the harassed and strayed (Lk. 15:4; Mt. 9:36; 1 Pet. 5:1-4). This necessarily involves counting people carefully by suitable measures, striving to enfold all of them in love.

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