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How to Keep Perspective When Ministry Attendance is Low

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“Are you kidding me? We came here for 50 people?!” Those were the words of a prominent Christian speaker when he arrived at an event where he was scheduled to speak.

Have you ever had those feelings? You spend months planning an event for your church and attendance is low. You prepare to lead a Bible study and only a handful of women show up. You organize an outreach project and only the regular few participate.

List of highways numbered 50

List of highways numbered 50 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s the reality of those 50 people that speaker ministered to:

  • Those 50 people represent 50 personal lives that could be drastically changed for the better.
  • Those 50 lives impact 50 communities, 50 business environments, and 50 families.
  • Each of those communities, environments, and families are filled with people who will be impacted by the changed heart and behavior of those original 50 men.
  • The influence of those 50 men on the people in those communities can then reverberate out to every person those individuals come in contact with.

Years ago, I was on a rotation as a speaker/teacher at our Saturday night worship service. Attendance wasn’t good and our pastor asked me something I’ll never forget.

He asked, “If only one person showed up, would it be worth it to you?” It caused me to stop and think. He reminded me of the importance of each individual and emphasized that Christ would still have come, suffered, and died even if it saved only one person. And it would have been worth it to him.

This is something I was reminded of when I spent eight months planning and organizing a missions conference and the registration was low. When those people came, we gave them our very best. After the conference, we received letters from them telling us how much that conference had helped and encouraged them. All the effort was worth it for the few who came.

Remember that:

  • In the story of the lost sheep, the shepherd left the ninety-nine sheep just to find the ONE who was lost. (Luke 15:3-7)
  • God asked Philip to leave Samaria where crowds of people were really excited about the things Philip was telling them about Christ – and many miracles were being performed. God quickly snapped him out of that environment and sent him to an audience of one in a desert place. The Ethiopian official he encountered there ended up asking to be baptized. (Acts 8:5-8; Acts 8:26-40)

God doesn’t see human beings as numbers, projects, or audiences. He views them as people and he sees the value of each one. He created them in His image, breathed life into them, and sacrificed everything to redeem them.

People matter to God. He invites us to come alongside him and join him in what he’s doing in the world. That is a downright privilege regardless of how many show up!

As we join God in ministry, we are not asked to worry about the numbers. We are called to be faithful. The church today has gotten into trouble because of the concern about numbers. Egos need to be fed, debts need to be paid, and truth is watered down to keep the numbers up.

Keep things in perspective when turnout is low:

  • Set aside your ego/pride. This isn’t about you.
  • Always remember who you love/serve and stay true to God’s mission.
  • Focus on the ones who chose to be there and give them your best.
  • See them through God’s eyes.
  • Minister to them with his heart.
  • Trust that God knows what he’s doing.
  • Depend on the power of Christ in you.

“And whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24

I wonder what the speaker’s motivation was as he entered that venue to speak to those 50 people.

My question for you today is this:

What is your motivation? Is one person worth it to you? How have you maintained perspective and avoided discouragement when the turnout is low?

Lisa~

How to Handle Low Youth Group Attendance

Children’s lesson on Philip and the Ethiopian

5 Comments

  1. Michelle says:

    I’ll never forget the day someone prayed over me as I cried before the Lord. In their prayer they said, Father help this lady to know that even if she was the only person on earth, Jesus would have died on the cross just for her! Amazing! My life has never been the same and my ministry mostly focuses on one one-on-one relationship building In Christ, because each person in precious in HIS sight!

  2. vickiem says:

    All I can say is.. AMEN. EVERY PERSON MATTERS!

  3. wyatt says:

    I know that speaker. He was a professor of mine in college.

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