Why Do We Take Attendance In Our Worship Services?

For almost three months now we have been asking everyone to write their name on a form in a little black folder/pad during our worship services each week. Since we began doing this, approximately 80% of those attending the service have entered their name on these attendance sheets. I’m sure there are a number of reasons why 1 out of 5 people have not put their name on the pad, but I thought it would be worth giving a little more explanation as to why the elders and pastoral staff think it very important that we take attendance during our worship services.

The Calling

Everything we do in the church should be done according to the will of God as revealed in the Word of God. Now many things we do are not specifically mandated or addressed in Scripture. But everything should follow from principles that are taught in the Scriptures. The principles do not change, but methods change over time and from culture to culture. So, here are some biblical principles regarding God’s view of His church, His church leaders, and His church members:

  1. Every person in the church is important. In Col 1:28, Paul says, “We proclaim Him (Jesus), admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.” Paul is emphasizing the church’s responsibility to “every man.”
  2. The elders/pastors of each local church have been commanded to guard/shepherd/oversee every person in their church.Paul makes this very clear as he challenges the elders of the Ephesian church in Acts 20:28-31. Notice the very clear statements that Paul makes to these men:
    1. Be on guard… for all the flock” (v.28) – notice the emphasis on “all” the flock.
    2. among which the Holy Spirit made you overseers” (v.28) – the Holy Spirit is the One who has assigned the elders/pastors this responsibility. It is an assignment from God Himself!
    3. to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.” (v.28) – here we see why – God cares so much about His flock because it cost Him so much to purchase them – Jesus’ very blood.
    4. after my departure savage wolves will come in among you… from among your own selves” (v.29-30) – the major concern for the sheep comes from within. Wolves who are dressed in sheep’s clothing will be in the church – with evil intent.
    5. not sparing the flock… to draw away the disciples” (v.29-30) – their intent is to destroy the flock – to remove them from the church, to make them abandon their faith and live fruitless lives, so that they cannot become mature in Christ.
    6. Therefore be on the alert” (v.31) – This is the challenge to the elders. Be on the alert! In other words, watch every person (every sheep) to make sure that they are protected, being cared for, and growing in maturity.
    7. The elders/pastors of the church will give an account to God for those under their care. Hebrews 13:17 says “for they watch over your souls… those who will give an account.”
    8. Those in the church should participate willingly with the elders/pastors in this process of being overseen, because it is good for them as well. Again in Heb 13:17 it says “Obey your leaders and submit to them…” Why? Because watching over the flock is a tough job. The writer of Hebrews continues to challenge the church members, “Let them (the leaders) do this (oversee) with joy and not with grief (because you make it hard for them), for this would be unprofitable for you.” We need to work as a team to take care of ourselves because we are all part of the same body. To make things hard for one part will ultimately make things hard for everyone.

These are just a few principles that come directly from God’s Word. There are many other passages that expand on the themes of these principles, but I hope the main idea is clear. God has given His appointed leaders in the church the responsibility and authority to oversee His children in the church – children whom He purchased with His blood.

The question for the elders and pastors at The Bridge Bible Fellowship is this: How will we accomplish the goal of overseeing/guarding/shepherding the people at this church? In other words, what method will we use to put these principles into practice? Each local church must follow the same principle. But they each may use a different methodology. As we have recently evaluated ourselves as to how we are doing in this area (shepherding the flock), we have identified several areas in which we have been deficient. Therefore we are working on putting into practice some methods that will help us adhere to the principles that the Lord has given us in His Word. Consider the following problem and solution.

The Problem(s)

Before we started taking attendance there were many things that we did not know about our people. Because of the fact that we were missing basic information about people who are or were coming to our church, we could not possibly provide shepherding and oversight like Jesus wants us to. Here are some examples of what we did not know.

  1. Several hundred people in our church database are listed as a “Member” or “Regular Attender” but are no longer here. Why not? Where are they? Why did they leave? Do they go to another church now?
  2. Or, someone does not come to church for a few weeks in a row. Why did they miss? Do they have a physical need? A spiritual need? Or are they just on vacation? Were they offended and did they leave the church? Did we even notice that they were missing? Do we care? We should care!
  3. What about visitors who come for the 1st time? They are easy to identify and contact if they fill out a “Visitor Card.” But how do we know when they come for a 2nd time? A 3rd time? How do we know if they decide to make this their church home?

These are just a few simple questions that are very difficult, if not impossible, to answer without taking attendance during our worship services. Simply being able to answer these questions does not mean that we are shepherding/overseeing/guarding these people, but we cannot even begin to accomplish those more difficult tasks if we cannot even determine who is here and who is not. Think about these questions. Does God care who is here and who is not? Does He expect us to care? Do you expect us to care? Would you care if we did not count the offering money each week? Would you care if we did not count it exactly to the penny? Would you care if we did not carefully keep track of the money we spent in the church? Of course, we do count the money exactly. Of course, we are careful how we spend the church’s money. So, if we are very careful about the money, but not as careful about determining who is here and who is not, what does that mean? Is it possible we care more about money than people?! I sure hope not!

The Solution

We must make sure, in light of our scriptural mandate, that we know who is here and who is not. This information is the minimum requirement for knowing the flock and shepherding the flock. This is why we have been taking attendance during the worship services. We are taking that information and we are entering it into a database so that we know who is here and who is not. Now we can more effectively do what we are commanded to do – shepherd the flock. How are we going to do this?

First of all we need to follow up with all of the people who are listed as “Member” or “Attender” and yet have not been here. We need to find out where they are and make sure they are “ok.” We need to reach out to them and, if need be, minister to them. Maybe they need prayer. Maybe they need to be invited back. Maybe we just need to apologize for not recognizing that they left in the first place. Possibly they have been here every Sunday but they never filled out the attendance pad. Hmmm… why not? J Whatever the case, we are now in a position to begin following up, as a good shepherd should. Remember what the apostle Paul wrote in Col 1:28 – “every man… every man… every man…”

Secondly, we have noticed that a number of visitors are willing to sign the attendance pad, but not fill out the visitor card. This also allows us to know when someone attends for the 2nd time, 3rd time, etc. Our ability to continue to follow up with these new people is enhanced.

Thirdly, a number of people have marked themselves as “Regular Attenders” when they still have a status of “Visitor” in our database. This means that someone has decided to make this their home church. Praise the Lord! But before we began taking attendance, it was very difficult to know when a visitor became a regular part of our church. It is so important to know when someone decides to make this their home! We need to follow up with them and welcome them and help them become integrated into the body.

Recently, we have been developing a system which will allow us to begin following up on each of these situations and many others. All of this should help us to do a much better job of shepherding those whom the Lord has entrusted into our care.

Would you please help us?

  1. Please pray that God would continue to bless our efforts as we try to serve His body.
  2. Please do your best to sign one of the attendance pads each Sunday that you are here and encourage those around you to do so as well.
  3. If you are interested in helping with the follow up, please contact myself or Carrie Carmichael in the church office.

The elders are grateful for your presence and your participation! Thank you for serving the Lord together with all of us at The Bridge Bible Fellowship.