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CNLP 023: Why People Are Attending Church Less Often And How to Respond—An Interview with Will Mancini

One trend almost every church leader is talking about today: people who attend church are attending less often.  

This podcast episode is the second part of a 5 part series on why people are attending church less often.

Part 1: 10 Reasons Even Committed Church Attenders Are Attending Less Often

Part 2: CNLP Episode 23: Why People Are Attending Church Less Often—An Interview with Will Mancini.

Part 3: 5 Ways to Embrace Infrequent Church Attenders

Part 4: 10 Predictions About the Future Church And Shifting Attendance Patterns

Part 5: CNLP Episode 24: Churchless: Why and How America is Learning to Live Without The Church—An Interview with David Kinnaman

If you want to access the podcast interviews easily on your phone or other device, the best way is to subscribe to my leadership podcast for free on iTunes or Stitcher

In this episode, however, Will Mancini walks us through the trend of declining attendance and helps us see how to respond and how NOT to respond as this new reality unfolds around us. The interview is full of insights for everyone wondering why people aren’t coming to church as often anymore.  

Welcome to Episode 23 of the Podcast.

 WillMancini

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Guest Links

Will Mancini’s blog 

The Auxano Group

The Most Important Trend in 2015 and What to do About it

Clear Creek Community Church

Free Book Download

You can download the first four chapters of Will’s book, Innovating Discipleship, for free here.

If you want to buy the full book, you’ll find it here.

Links Mentioned in this Episode

The Orange Conference 2015

The Orange Conference/SeniorLeader

Howard Hendricks

The Kingdom Concept

Life Church

John Lee Dumas

Tim Ferriss

Andy Crouch

Ed Stetzer

The Cove Church Charlotte, NC

The Cove Church Vision (Note…watch the Reach series)

Dave Browning at Christ the King

Ryan Russell at XXXChurch; Episode 14

FaithBridge Church (Post-Sermon Bonus Videos)

3 Things You Can Do Right Away

If you’re trying to respond to the reality that people are attending church less often, here are three practical responses:

1. Decide to run offence. This is a mindset shift. But rather than just try to figure out how to get people to come back, figure out how to do ministry to them wherever they are. Shift from scarcity to abundance thinking. This is part of the dialogue I started on the blog with this post on reasons why people who attend church are attending less often.

2. Define your outputs. Most churches only measure input but never measure outputs. For example, what’s your definition of a committed follower of Jesus? Second, is your current system producing it? Another example might be to try to get people to engage God’s word personally. So survey people and ask…how many times a week are you meaningfully engaging  God’s word? Nationally, 22% say it’s every day. What if, after some intense focus, 50% of your people did. Those measured outputs provide value, and when you identify the value, attendance has a habit of taking care of itself.

3. Move from being a teaching center to a training center. Give yourself more leadership bandwidth to create more tools and value around the content of your ministry. If you’re helping people develop new life outcomes, and if there’s modeling, training, evaluation and accountability around anything new for the life of following Jesus, that’s something that can’t be replaced. As people travel more, they can bring the mission with them wherever they go.

Again, join us on the blog this week and next week for more on this subject.

Quotes from Will

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Next Episode: David Kinnaman

We continue this series on church attendance and engagement next week with David Kinnaman, President of the Barna Group.

David discusses his recent finding on the massive national poll that discovered that 48% of millennials fit the category of being churchless, both in their attendance and their mindset.

What does it mean to be the church in a post-Christian culture? David has some incredible insights.

Subscribe for free now, and you won’t miss Episode 24.

In the meantime, got a question?

Scroll down and leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

19 Comments

  1. Joe on September 17, 2015 at 11:40 am

    I think much of the problem, if you look at it as a problem, is a failure of churches years back. The children of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s that were left disappointed with their church experience have chosen not to return, feeding on itself, they don’t bring their children.

  2. rosedude34 on March 30, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    I am a church drop-out

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 31, 2015 at 5:41 am

      Rose…I hope you find a Christian community that embraces you and that you can embrace.

  3. Chuck on March 11, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    Good perspective on measuring outputs. I like the idea. But I’m sort of paranoid about relying too heavily on those outputs in the wrong way / for the wrong reason. This is a huge issue for me personally, as I don’t want to fall into pharasaic pride (a la Matthew 6…) or idol worship (you spoke of very similar issues in your previous blog on this matter in how over-reliance on blog hits, numbers of followers, etc etc can become veiled forms of idol worship.

    I quit “measuring” how many new folks come to our small groups and such long ago because I didn’t want to fall prey to this myself. Am I getting carried away?

    Put differently the question comes down to this: How do we measure outputs “safely” without letting them become corrupt points or pride, or idols?

    P.S. LOVE the refrigerator rights comment! GOLD!!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 11, 2015 at 6:54 pm

      Chuck…thanks for this. I think many of us identify with your struggle. We need to avoid pride. I think when you’ve been through a cycle of good numbers and bad numbers you learn humility. I also think outputs measure quality as much as quantity.

  4. 5 Ways to Embrace Infrequent Church Attenders on March 2, 2015 at 1:04 am

    […] church less often. Part 1 offers 10 reasons why people are attending church less often, and Part 2 features a podcast I did with Will Mancini exploring the trend in more detail. Part 4 and 5 will go live next week (February 23 and […]

  5. February 2015 Archives - Carey Nieuwhof on February 23, 2015 at 9:38 am

    […] CNLP 23: Why People Are Attending Church Less Often And How to Respond—An Interview with Will Manc… […]

  6. […] Part 2: CNLP Episode 23: Why People Are Attending Church Less Often—An Interview with Will Mancini. […]

  7. Chris Rivers on February 19, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    “Training will never become a commodity” wow! Great thoughts from Will Mancini.

  8. […] church less often. Part 1 offers 10 reasons why people are attending church less often, and Part 2 features a podcast I did with Will Mancini exploring the trend in more detail. Part 4 and 5 will go live next week (February 23rd and […]

  9. […] 24 which will go live Tuesday February 24th 2014), I’ll talk with church leadership experts Will Mancini and David Kinnaman about why people are attending church less often. Personally, I found the […]

  10. Kelli Espiritu on February 19, 2015 at 12:14 am

    Insights galore! My “ah ha” moment is realizing how personal the church digital connection is in 2015. Thinking about it, I think all church leaders should consider intentionally connecting with families via comments on posts etc. Texting and welcoming new families helped me connect and break the ice. I think kids ministry would take a hit if families relied primarily on digital church. We shall see.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on February 19, 2015 at 2:06 pm

      So glad Kelli. Digital is personal…for sure.

      • Chris Shumate on February 20, 2015 at 11:50 am

        Carey, @kelli_espiritu:disqus comment about kid’s ministry taking a hit if families relied primarily on digital church sparked a memory from an OLD interview you did with Frank Bealer of Elevation Church (if I remember correctly). Didn’t you discuss that topic with him a couple of years ago?

        I’m not aware of any updates towards the Kid Min digital experience. Are you aware of an update on that front?

  11. […] 24 which will go live Tuesday February 24th 2014), I’ll talk with church leadership experts Will Mancini and David Kinnaman about why people are attending church less often. Personally, I found the […]

  12. […] interview with Will Mancini […]

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