Empty Pews

49. That was the count of worship attendees last Sunday. 49. Our reported annual average is 84. 49 people, 16 of them were children, so after the children’s moment that left around 39 people in the sanctuary.

I’m happy those people showed. I am happy that we gathered to worship on a beautiful Sunday morning. I am happy that we had a good service on Trinity Sunday/Father’s Day.
We had a fill in playing the organ and a person running the PowerPoint that I taught how to run PowerPoint 3 minutes before the service started. A sub was in charge of the acolytes for the day and Children’s Sunday School had a giant question mark next to it the hour before. The persons who usually lead the congregation in the hymns were both gone as well, leaving me to leave on my microphone because the sounds guys were also gone. Needless to say, my nerves were frayed and it was only the Prelude.
I know the “where two or more are gathered…” thing and I believe it. But when half your congregation is gone it can be completely soul sucking. Usually during worship you can scan the audience for those few people who are offering something back. Those looks of interest or agreement. Those nods at the right moments or the laughs you hoped you would get. But with only 39 people in a 250 seat sanctuary, every action is amplified and so the already stoic congregations becomes stoicitier…er…stoiciest….er…even more stoic.
It is hard to get energy back and at the end of worship you can feel drained and depleted. That summed me up on Sunday afternoon.
To all those preachers looking at half the people this summer, my prayers are with you, I know your pain. How do you get by during the summer slump? May you find places and time to replenish everything you put out there.

One thought on “Empty Pews

  1. It is even more difficult when your typical worship count is 40 to begin with!

    I think you do exactly what you said you did. Thank God for the people that are there. Many people are away on vacation, hopefully enjoying quality time and renewal. Now, when they return, they will be more than ready to take a role in ministry 🙂

    Especially on a low Sunday, I think, it is good to use people's names throughout the worship service. So, they are not just “our ushers” they are name, name and name. During the sermon I would try to do the same thing.

    For a while our sanctuary, which does not seat an enormous amount of people, looked just like you described. We cut it in half with decorative trees and it helped to feel more comfortable. Now, we don't need the trees anymore!

    Thanks for the prayers. We all need them. Stay blessed…john


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