By Matt Henslee
You peer out the window, it is Sunday, and you are trying to gauge what the attendance will be by the cars in the parking lot. It is tempting to look out or even walk through the parking lot during the Sunday School hour and count cars, but many of us know what happens when we do.
We might see the lot full and think to ourselves, “Today is gonna be a great day,” or worse, when you see more empty spaces than cars, “Ouch. This is gonna be rough.”
Low attendance is frustrating because you put in a solid week of work in the study. You nailed your exegesis, you mapped the passage well, you found some excellent illustrations, and your applications were on point. But then you see the lack of cars, and it is tempting to think it was all for naught.
“No one will even be here to hear it,” you think to yourself. Self-doubt creeps in as you start to wonder, “Is it me? Is this even worth it? Why am I working so hard for this?”
Not only is this tempting, I submit it is wrong. While there is value in metrics, the main thing is not the “numbers and noses.” What matters most is our faithfulness to “preach the Word.” The Apostle Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching.”
Preach the Word
It is not a suggestion, it is a clarion call to make the main thing, the main thing. Being ready to preach the Word in season and out of season…
- When you feel like it.
- When you do not.
- When your kids are fussy.
- When life has been rosy.
- When the parking lot is empty.
- When it is full.
In season and out of season, the call remains the same, “preach the Word.” Whether you have ten or ten thousand in attendance, “preach the Word.” You put in the elbow-grease, proclaim it passionately from the pulpit. Be faithful to “rebuke, correct, and encourage,” how?
With great patience and teaching
Patience is vital! Not only was Rome not built in a day, there were good days and bad days along the way. There were times they were ahead of schedule and times when they were behind. The same will inevitably be true in your church; good days, bad days, and everything in between.
The last thing you need on your mind before preaching is if the crowd is a little light.
Resist the temptation to peer out the window during Sunday school. Stay out of the parking lot unless you are greeting someone. Use the time you spend worrying about how many numbers will fill the pews to pray for the noses in the seats.
When it comes to Sunday, try not worry as much about who is not there, you can pray for them later. Instead, invest in who is there by making the main thing the main thing, and “preach the Word.”