“You understand that no one is going to show up, right?”
–Me every time someone excitedly tells me what new thing they want to start at church.
People always have ideas of great events the church can do. Obviously my ideas aren’t working, so the smart people will excitedly suggest an event. “Go for it,” I say. “But just know that no one is going to come.”
They pat my little head and give a condescending little smile to the cute, widdle pastor. “Oh you poor soul. Of course they will. Unlike your events, ours will actually be good.”
People will excitedly go about organizing their event and tell everyone about it. They’ll do all the things they know will work. The big day comes and no one shows up.
I don’t say anything. Why bother.
Unfortunately, this also happens at funerals and important events. People don’t show up for those things either. Here’s the thing: If you don’t show up for other people’s funerals; people probably aren’t going to show up for yours either.
If you don’t show up for people’s Bible studies; they won’t show up for yours either. If you don’t attend people’s picnics; they won’t attend yours either.
This is a hard cycle to break. I’ve yet to figure it out. Yeah, there are techniques you can use to manipulate people into showing up, but I’d rather just have people who want to be there be there. Unfortunately, if attendance is any indicator, no one wants to be there.
I try not to be a giant wet blanket on people’s enthusiasm, but I feel a need to let them down easy. To let them know beforehand to get ready for discouragement. I’ve been doing church events for many years now and discouragement and I made peace years ago.
No one is going to show up to your thing.
There is one exception: do a really stupid, completely non-spiritual thing and the odds of people coming go way up.
I remember one night having two people at my Bible study while ten people from church went to a park and played softball. There was the Saturday night when the family who left my church had a holiday get together that half my church attended (I was not invited), and my church attendance the following morning was a tiny fraction of the party crowd. A family had a picnic during one of our evening church services and drew a big crowd, while four people came to church.
If you want people to show up to your event, here are steps to success:
- Make sure nothing remotely spiritual is planned.
- Schedule it during a church event.
- Don’t invite the pastor.
Boom, your event will now be successful.
My church services remain half-empty and my Bible studies draw a maximum of six people. I don’t play games. I don’t manipulate, market, or use bait and switch. I don’t talk it up like it’s going to be exciting. I don’t use entertainment and gimmicks. I just preach and try to facilitate edifying conversation.
Few people are interested. That’s fine. I know that and am used to it. I just want others to be prepared for it too. Just trying to help and let you down easy.
Show up to church. Show up to church events. Attend weddings, funerals, and get togethers with church people. A small act of kindness goes a long way. It probably won’t lead to people reciprocating by attending your thing, but at least you were kind to them. Let it go at that. Don’t be bitter. Don’t be resentful. And go to funerals.
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.