ATTENDANCE & When Easter and Christmas near, more Americans search online for “church” #PewResearch

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I tell church leaders not to plant a church in the fall or launch a new service or venue at that time. That is because while there is a peak of interest in going to church before Thanksgiving, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the lowest time of the year for people to be interested in attending church.

It is much better to launch new multiplication efforts during Lent in the Spring run up to Easter as depicted in the chart below.

When Easter and Christmas near, more Americans search online for “church”

by Nobel Kuriakose, Pew Research, 5/18/14.

More Americans search for “church” around Easter than at any other time, with the Christmas season usually ranking second, according to Google Trends data between 2004 and 2013. Google’s Trends tool measures the popularity of a search term relative to all searches in the United States. Data are reported on a scale from 0 to 100…

In 2013, the highest share of searches for “church” are on the week of Easter Sunday, followed by the week of Christmas and the week of Ash Wednesday, the day that marks the beginning of Lent.

The lowest share of searches occur on the week of Thanksgiving in November each year, and the summer months have consistently low levels of interest in web searches for “church.” Sociologists also have previously reported low levels of church attendance during the summer months. Laurence Iannaccone and Sean Everton analyzed weekly attendance records from churches and argued that people are less likely to attend church when the weather outside is just right in a journal article titled “Never on Sunny Days.”

Read more at … https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/04/18/when-easter-and-christmas-near-more-americans-search-online-for-church/

TRADITIONS & Why You Need a Come-as-you are Worship Service at Thanksgiving, Christmas & Easter (and how to plan it).

by Bob Whitesel, D.Mn., Ph.D., 10/25/15.

We cannot compromise the Biblical or theological threshold for becoming a follower of Jesus, but we can minimize the cultural one.

A student once commented,

“While I too grew up getting dressed up for church, I now work at a church that is anything but formal. Granted you do have those who wear suits etc. but the vast majority of people come in pretty normal, everyday types of clothing (this includes the pastoral staff)…. This has been a shift that has taken place over the last several years but we now are at a very casual, ‘come as you are’ kind of place. Generally speaking I like this a lot, but there are those times that it’s nice to dress up a little bit for church and you see this to be the case for others around Easter, Christmas, Mother’s day, etc.”

The student was right. 

Evangelistic churches try to make the cultural threshold low for those coming to Christ.  In other words, we cannot compromise the Biblical or theological threshold for becoming a follower of Jesus, but we can minimize the cultural one (have relevant worship music, language, dress down, etc.).

However, as the student noted, people still often dress up around Easter, Christmas, etc.  And yet, these are the days that many unchurched people first start attending church.  Thus, I wonder if our dressing-up for Easter inhibits this.

How to Plan a Come-as-you are Worship Service at Thanksgiving, Christmas & Easter.

Therefore, I have suggested that churches hold extra “come-as-you-are” services at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter – perhaps in conjunction with a picnic, outdoor service (in the South), etc. to help people with less fashionable (or dressy) clothes feel at home.

Now, you don’t want people to feel like this is a service for the less-fashionable in your community. So, tying it to a picnic, carry-in, youth service, etc. can make your extra holiday worship expression more naturally down-to-earth.