A few weeks ago, a friend and I participated in a group outing where a bus captain “called roll” like that. Eventually, the captain arrived at the “C’s” and asked, “Steven Chambers?” Besides the momentary silence, I’m not sure what happened next. All I know for sure is that I wasn’t on that bus.
Thankfully, everything was ok. I had boarded the wrong bus, which meant the only harm was semi-embarrassment for lackluster attention to the details. Being absent-minded is one thing, being absent when the bus is about to pull off and leave you behind is another thing.
A few weeks ago, I asked our Connect Group leaders the following: why do we keep attendance? Think about it: does it make any difference whether we keep attendance or not on Sundays in our groups? Does it really matter who is there and who isn’t?
On the one hand, being overly focused on the number of people present can eclipse our focus on people’s hearts. As Christians, we should pay closer attention to people than attendance summaries. Furthermore, being too concerned about those in attendance and those not in attendance can derail us from our overarching mission, which is to know Christ and make him known. If our primary aim becomes “perfect attendance” but we fail to teach the Bible, care for people’s needs, and reach out to others, then we have allowed numbers to eclipse mission. That would be a big mistake.
At the same time, it does matter who is and who isn’t gathering. Chronic absence from someone’s Connect Group matters. It’s a big deal if people consistently do not attend the corporate worship gathering. These two regular gatherings are key aspects of being a member of Woolsey Baptist Church.
Therefore, we should keep a record of who attends. Remember that the first church in Acts kept up with those being added—Acts 2:41; 4:4; 6:1; 2 Cor 2:6.
And we should be concerned when someone is absent. Michael Harris and Bill Tayler are right:
“[Measurements are] the only way we can make sense of our environment, our results, and our strategic objectives, which we must do if we are to succeed. Metrics provide clearly defined direction where strategy may otherwise seem too amorphous to have an impact.”
Just like a teacher would aggressively tell the bus driver to hold up if a student was missing for a field trip, we should kindly yet intentionally reach out to people who miss their Connect Group or the worship gathering Sunday after Sunday.
Just like a teacher wouldn’t take, “I just saw him a moment ago” or, “He sent me a text earlier,” for an answer, so also, we should not be content when people say, “Oh, I think everything’s ok.” Alternatively, let’s be the hands, feet, and mouth of Jesus, extending his love and compassion to people who can’t say, “I’m here” when attendance is called!
Will you join me in reaching out to one another?