Archive for January, 2011

Reaching more, yet attendance lags

Posted: January 25, 2011 by efenster in Ideas, Stories

I’ve been hearing a number of pastors in the Indiana Conference say that their churches are actually reaching more people but their worship attendance is down because attenders aren’t coming as frequently.

Here is an account from Rev. Ted Jansen, lead pastor of Auburn First UMC, whose church actually studied this phenomena.  What’s your church’s experience?  — Ed Fenstermacher

Two times over the past 6+ years First UMC of Auburn has done a study of the worship habits of its people.  The first was after I had been the pastor of First Church for several years.  We were attracting newer people and they were involved in the life of the church.  But our worship numbers were not rising as much as I thought they should be.  I was somewhat puzzled.  So, I had a study done of the total numbers of people attending worship and our worship average.  I discovered something that has continued.  When we compare the number of worshippers to past numbers, we do have more people that are attending worship.  But what we have discovered is that the people who are attending worship are doing so with less frequency than those in the past.  We updated this study and broke it down into several age categories and discovered two things.  Younger people tend to worship less.  (The lifestyle choices for themselves and their children at times steer them away from Sunday worship.)  We also discovered that some retirees travel more (to grandkids, to warmer weather, and other trips.)
So, our worship attendance has remained on a similar track, in part, because although we are attracting more people to our worship, the people we attract are worshipping with a lesser frequency.
This has implications on how we minister–from sermon series, to publicity, to stewardship and music ministries.  This is one of the discoveries that we have had to adapt and understand as we do ministry in this new day.   — Rev. Ted Jansen

LaGrange First focusing this year…

Posted: January 21, 2011 by efenster in Ideas, Stories

  LaGrange First UMC

Does your church have an overall theme or focus this year?  LaGrange First United Methodist Church’s has one; it’s “The Great Adventure with Christ.” 

Each person attending the church is encouraged to be involved in the following ways: 

1. Open the Map–begin praying for the world on a regular basis. 

2. Listen to the Guide–read the whole Bible over the course of the year. 

3. Be United with Other Adventurers Around the Globe–choose one mission project and follow it and support it throughout the year. 

4. Go on Your Own Adventure–devote time to a mission outreach in a setting unfamiliar to you. 

5. Bind Yourself Together with Fellow Adventurers at the Church–get involved in a small group.  

Pastor Rev. Chris Danielson, and his leadership, provide those on this adventure with weekly helps for each area.  His sermons also relate to the scriptures that the congregation are reading. 

Rev. Danielson says that the concept for this unique effort came from a book entitled, Radical, by David Platt, but he and his leaders modified it to fit their church.  By giving his congregation specific, measurable next-steps, he’s hoping that they will deepen their level of discipleship.

So what about your church?  What is it doing? 

— Ed Fenstermacher

Local church statistical information available

Posted: January 13, 2011 by efenster in Resources

The Indiana Conference is providing statistical information in user-friendly forms for all of its United Methodist churches.  Go to the conference website ( and click on the “Find-a-Church” tab at the top of the homepage.  Then click the link that says “Find an Indiana Church.”  Find the church you’re interested in and then choose the report you want.    Hope it’s helpful! 

— Ed Fenstermacher, Assoc. Director of Church Development

Here is an example of one of the many reports available.  This is for one of the churches in the  Conference.