By Aaron Earls
Everyone knows Christmas and Easter are the times when churches see higher than normal attendance, but another Sunday also draws a crowd for some churches—Mother’s Day.
In a previous Lifeway Research study, Protestant pastors were asked what day typically has the highest, second highest, and third highest attendance for worship services.
Unsurprisingly, 93% of pastors chose Easter as one of the top attendance days, with 55% saying it was their top day. More than 4 in 5 pastors (84%) said Christmas was a big draw, including 29% who said it was their highest time.
While only 4% said Mother’s Day was their highest attendance day, close to 3 in 5 (59%) picked that Sunday as part of their top three. It was the only day besides Easter and Christmas a majority of pastors chose as one of their best attended.When asked to choose their highest attendance Sundays, U.S. Protestant pastors pointed to Easter (93%), Christmas (84%), and Mother's Day (59%). Click To Tweet
Few pastors pointed to a homecoming Sunday (16%), a designated “Friend Day” (14%), or Father’s Day (4%) as a high attendance Sunday. Around a quarter (26%) chose “other” with the most common days mentioned being two Sundays connected to Christmas and Easter—Christmas Eve and Palm Sunday—along with Thanksgiving, confirmation Sunday, and a kids, youth, or VBS Sunday.
When it comes to Mother’s Day, certain churches are more likely to see a jump in attendance. Pastors of the smallest churches, those with less than 50 in attendance, were most likely to say Mother’s Day was their highest Sunday (9%).
Those pastors, along with those of churches with regular Sunday morning attendance of 50 to 99, were also more likely to say homecoming was their top attendance day (8% and 7% respectively) compared to pastors of churches with 100 to 249 people (2%) and churches with 250 or more (1%).
This indicates that smaller, more familial, tradition-heavy congregations are the ones most likely to see a jump on Mother’s Day or other Sundays that draw people back to where they grew up.Smaller, more familial, tradition-heavy congregations are the ones most likely to see an attendance jump on Mother’s Day, but any church could see a boost that day. Click To Tweet
That doesn’t mean, however, that other churches should not expect or plan for a boost on Mother’s Day. Any church that has mothers in the congregation could see an attendance bump that day. So how can you capitalize on this potentially unexpected high attendance Sunday?
Many people come to church on Mother’s Day to see their mom and expect her to be recognized in some form. This can be done in a myriad of contextually appropriate ways.Find a way to honor mothers that fits with your congregation but doesn’t go overboard. Click To Tweet
For some churches, that may mean giving moms a flower. For others, it may be a simple recognition from the stage and an encouragement for husbands and children to honor them in a unique way after the service. Find a way that fits with your congregation but doesn’t go overboard.
Don’t worship moms
There’s the old stereotype about Mother’s Day services and Father’s Day services: the first is always about how great the moms are and the latter is always about how dads aren’t doing enough.Mothers have a unique and special calling, but their greatest calling, like everyone else, is to be a faithful follower of Christ. Click To Tweet
Moms, like all the rest of us, make mistakes. They need the grace of God just as much as the dads, singles, students, and childless women in the congregation. Mothers have a unique and special calling, but their greatest calling, like everyone else, is to be a faithful follower of Christ.
Encourage the moms of adult children to invite their grown-up kids to church, especially any who are unchurched. Print out postcards. Whatever it takes to make it as simple as possible for moms to send a quick invitation to their children who live outside of the home.Encourage moms to build off of Mother's Day by inviting others in their lives to church on that day. Involve those moms in guest follow up as well. Click To Tweet
Help moms of younger children invite other moms they know. Provide them with small gifts or cards to give to their mom friends as they ask them about visiting church on Mother’s Day.
In the follow up to guests, involve moms again. If a guest came because of them, have them send a note, make a call, or go visit. If those moms can encourage someone to show up one Sunday, they may can do the same again.
Don’t overwhelm moms (or others)
Mother’s Day is a day of celebration for many, and churches should recognize that. But they should also understand the day brings different emotions for many, including some moms.
Think through some of the possible complicated situations within your church and what emotions may surface by asking all the mothers to stand. What about stepmothers or foster moms? Those who have recently miscarried a child? A woman dealing with infertility? Moms with estranged children? Or simply moms who don’t feel honored by having attention forced on them?Our biblical principle should be to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Churches should recognize that Mother’s Day provides an opportunity to do both. Click To Tweet
Our biblical principle should be to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). Churches should recognize that Mother’s Day provides an opportunity to do both. There are some ideas that seek to serve well everyone in attendance that day. That may be as simple as acknowledging through prayer or other means that different situations exist to let individuals know that they are seen and valued in your church.
However you decide to acknowledge Mother’s Day, remember you may have a few new or forgotten faces in the pews on that day. Try to capitalize so those faces will be familiar ones next Mother’s Day.
Aaron is the senior writer at Lifeway Research.
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