Top 13 Posts of 2013 – Part One

Today and tomorrow I will be taking a look back at 2013 and the top posts from the year here at It has been an incredible year here on the blog, and I owe that to you, the readers. Without further ado, here is the first half of the top 13 in ’13. (Read part two here.)

13. Ten Commandments for Guest-Friendly Church Members — March 30

I travel a lot and spend a lot of time in different churches. I have had a church consulting firm that did “guest” visits as part of our services. Sadly, many times I do not feel welcome as a guest when I visit churches.

12. Seven Reasons Why Church Worship Centers Will Get Smaller — December 9

A seismic shift is taking place in American church facilities, a shift that will become even more noticeable in the years to come. Church worship centers or sanctuaries will become smaller than they were the past 40 years. As church leaders decide to build, a large number of them will decide to build smaller than most of their predecessors have in previous years.

11. Seven Things Pastors Would Like Church Members to Know about Their Children — June 5

I was serving a church in St. Petersburg, Florida, when it hit me hard. One of my young children had playfully fallen on the floor in the foyer after a worship service. A deacon in the church came up to me and spoke forcefully: “You need to tell your kid to get up. Pastors’ children aren’t supposed to act that way.”

10. Five Things Church Members Want in a Church Bulletin — April 8

There are differences of opinion and a variety of ideas about what should be in the church bulletin, so I conducted an informal survey among church members. I asked one simple and open-ended question: “What do you want in a church bulletin?” The respondents could give as many answers as they liked. There was much agreement on the first four items. Beyond the top four was considerably fragmented opinions.

9. The Number One Reason for the Decline in Church Attendance and Five Ways to Address It — August 19

Stated simply, the number one reason for the decline in church attendance is that members attend with less frequency than they did just a few years ago. Allow me to explain. If the frequency of attendance changes, then attendance will respond accordingly. For example, if 200 members attend every week the average attendance is, obviously, 200. But if one-half of those members miss only one out of four weeks, the attendance drops to 175.

8. Seven of the Greatest Stressors on Pastors — December 16

Most pastors love their calling. Most pastors could not imagine doing anything else. Most pastors have joy in their ministries. I want to be clear that I don’t view pastors as a depressed, melancholy, and forlorn lot.  Most pastors would not come close to fitting that description. But every pastor has points of stress. Indeed everyone has points of stress, including leaders of churches, organizations, and families. Pastors are not immune from stressors in life and ministry.

7. Ten Things Church Members Desire in a Pastor — January 14

I recently asked a few hundred laypersons to write down what they desired of a pastor. Their responses were open-ended, and there was no limitation on the number of items they could list. Though my approach was not scientific, these laypersons did represent over sixty churches.


  1. Bruce Webster says

    This comment is really about your August 19 post which I just saw the other day after seeing it quoted in an article in the January 2014 issue of Christian Standard. When I saw the quote I had to laugh because it was very obvious you were not aware of the little known but excellent (perhaps the best ever) research on church attendance which was done by Dr. Richard A. Myers several years ago. When I’m finished I think you will agree about the quality of his research.
    True Story: It was the late 60’s, probably 68 or 69. In a three day colloquy arranged by Dr. Medford Jones on church growth at Milligan College (near Johnson City TN), Dr. Myers was the primary resource person. By this time he had data on over 10,000 churches in his research. He also had data on a few of the churches represented at the colloquy. It was shortly after Easter and as a session began he very quietly said to one of the pastors, “I’d say you had about 400 for Easter.” The pastor responded, “What did you say?” Dr. Myers said, “To be exact, I’d say you had 407 for Easter.” The pastor responded, “That’s exactly what we had.” How could Dr. Myers accurately predict a churches Easter attendance? (Usually he was only close.) His research revealed that on an average Sunday half the people present were not there the week before and that 70% of regular attendees only came once or twice a month! Easter attendance is all the regular attendees coming the same Sunday. For most churches multiplying the average attendance by 1.65 will result in a figure close to the Easter attendance. (Bad weather or school breaks that include Easter weekend can reduce Easter attendance.)
    Another true story: The church gradually “grew” from over 800 to less than 400. The leaders realized they needed to do something, but what? Nothing they tried had helped. They learned of Dr. Myers’ research and brought him in as a consultant. He told them they had been cutting back the number of people they could serve by cutting back their “face to face” groups. At first they didn’t think they had made any such cuts but as they thought more about it they began to remember groups that had been merged when a leader was no longer available for a group. Dr. Myers told them what they needed to do with some ideas as to how to do it. Not too long thereafter they added several “face to face” groups based on Dr. Myers’ recommendations. Just three weeks later their attendance jumped by 150 over anything they had in recent years.
    Dr. Myers found three variables that combined accounted for about 95% of the variance in church attendance. (That doesn’t leave much variance for all other factors.) (If two church were the same on those three variables the church in a rundown warehouse at the end of Dead End Lane had a 50% chance of being larger (not by much) than the church in a beautiful cathedral on the corner of Main and Central. In other words, the beauty or lack there of of their building and the location had nothing to do with the church’s size!)
    Myers’ three variables were 1. the number of face to face groups (groups under 20) 2. staff size and 3 facility size. (the old 75% or 85% rule–depending on how seating capacity is calculated. This is a cultural thing and can vary significantly from culture to culture.)
    Dr Myers said a church will have the number of people it is prepared to serve. Another way to put it is a church will have the number of people it is structured to effectively love. Seems Jesus said something about love.
    I have used Dr. Myers research to predict churches average attendance and have rarely been over about 5% off actual average attendance.

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