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For many people, church is something you have to or should attend in order to be a good Christian. If this holds true for your dwindling membership, you may need to take a hard look at how your church gets down to business. While you'll likely always have fringe members who only come on holidays and special occasions, a few fresh ideas may increase the numbers who wouldn't miss service in a blizzard.
Curb Political Bias
Data from the Pew Research Center suggests that more people unaffiliated with a specific religion tend to identify with a liberal belief system instead of a conservative one, and are in support of issues such as legalized abortion and gay marriage. The numbers of Americans who identify as Christian and also support liberal political policies is on the rise. Churches that vocally support only the majority conservative political ideology may be ostracizing those members who want to worship, but who don't share those same political beliefs. A better strategy may be to have politically neutral sermons, and to encourage and welcome members of all political beliefs. If your church prides itself on political service, welcome members to form external groups of all ideologies and not make membership compulsory or adversarial.
Recruit, Don't Repulse
If you're having trouble getting new people in the doors, consider the ways your membership approaches recruiting. Some of your devoted followers may be pushing fire and brimstone in their recruitment efforts instead of the joys of Christ's love. The old saying "you attract more flies with honey than vinegar" applies here. New members may be frightened off by church members who give only a narrow view of Christianity or who try to scare others into coming.
Strengthen Your Social Life
Church offers a place to worship, but it also offers an important sense of community. If church is fun and an integral part of your members' social lives, you'll likely have fewer empty seats come Sunday. Strengthen your youth ministries, youth groups and children's services. Focus on activities such as book cubs, movie nights, camping trips, community service projects, arts and crafts circles, and dinner parties for the adults. Activities don't always have to be directly church related, which may attract community members on the fence about joining your church.
Get With the Times
Churches who modernized their services and activities saw jumps in both attendance and vitality of membership, according to an article published in the Christian Post. A few contemporary updates might include featuring drums and electric guitars in your choir, communicating with your members via social media, relating sermons to pop culture and headline news, and embracing technology. Multimedia presentations that include songs, video clips and websites may also entice technology-thirsty youth.
A Jill-of-all-trades, Lillian Downey is a certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, certified clinical phlebotomist and a certified non-profit administrator. She's also written extensively on gardening and cooking. She also authors blogs on nail art blog and women's self esteem.