Pastors need your attendance. I have been a pastor for something like 33 years and I have often expressed my frustration with those who can’t seem to come to church regularly. From one side of my mouth, I express the idea of grace and following the Lord; while, from the other side, I maintain the message of performance and legalism in church attendance. There’s a reason for that.
- Pastors are usually judged by attendance figures. If attendance is going up, the pastor is doing well. If attendance slips, perhaps the pastor is slipping. At the end of the year many churches present the average attendance for the year, having logged it carefully Sunday by Sunday. So the ones who come regularly are noticed and so are those who are absent. Most pastors keep a careful eye on who’s in church and who is not. (Some pastors’ wives have even been known to surreptitiously keep an attendance chart on each person.)
- Also, pastors are taught to believe that the message presented in the sermon can change lives. Who better to receive that message and have their lives changed then those whose church attendance is sporadic? Story after story is presented in which some wanderer comes into the church and hears a message that grabs his heart and turns him to the Lord. I have often heard people express frustration with those who don’t attend church by saying, “Boy, so–and–so sure could have used that message this morning.” In other words, it is sad that the right people weren’t there.
- There’s another thing, something we don’t often talk openly about. People who don’t come to church don’t usually give to the church. When pastors and church leaders see their ministry as dependent on the giving of the attenders then those who are absent are missed more concretely.
So it seems fair to say that pastors are somewhat compromised on the issue.