Attendance Dips

I think one of the signs that a church is too enamored with numbers is that they only print them when they are good. Now, I want to see more people come to Oak Leaf Church – of course – but it’s not just about attracting a crowd. In fact, since we’ve moved to Woodland, our attendance has gone down – from about 850 to about 700. We lost 150 people in the move. Here’s some of the reasons I think that happened.

1. It was a 17 minute move. About 8 miles through the town. Some people that were coming from a little town nearby decided not to make the additional drive. We believe we had to make the move to a larger venue, and there is technically a higher population density at our new location, but it was still a long move. Woodland is kind of on the edge of the county – the movie theater was in the middle of town. I wish we didn’t lose people over distance, but it’s just one of those things. Coincidently, I do know people that drive more than an hour to come to Oak Leaf Church, and we have some great college students that drive down from Rome.

2. We no longer offered the early 8:45 service. With the move, service times moved to 9:30 and 11:00, and I know of a few people that attended that early service and then went to their own church. I’m okay with this, because we weren’t having church services for church people that are actively involved in another church. There were about 150 people attending that early service, so we basically lost a whole service’s worth of people.

3. I know people left because of our stance on some of the Issues that I talked about during the Issues series. Some people left because I was too hard on an issue (homosexuality, for example). I know at least one person that left because they thought I was too soft on an issue (drinking). I’m okay with people leaving over this, because we’re not going to shy away from the issues because they are tough to tackle. On the drinking message, I even began with stating that I could be wrong completely. 🙂

4. The vibe changed a bit. We’re still the same church. Our music and my messages are the same, but the room is bigger. We don’t have the giant lobby with the coffee and I think that really contributed to the personal feeling we had at the old place. We’ve worked hard on this, but the venue is just different. The movie theater was our first and only meeting location, and there was a lot of sentimental value there. Even I miss it. If we could have stayed, we would have, because we loved it. It was easy to invite people and everybody knew where it was. Maybe sometime next year, we will go back and open a campus there. We have a strategy where we could have one church in two locations and we’re praying through it.

Next time, I’ll talk about some things that didn’t change with the move.


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