The issue of how members become “Chreasters” – people who attend at Christmas and Easter – was raised by George Bullard in the American Baptist Press.
The members he focuses on were once regular attenders: they were involved in Sunday School and were active in the congregation. Bullard writes,
Then something happened. I do not know what. If some people who keep up with them on a regular basis know, they are not telling. Whatever it is, it has not led them to leave our congregation and connect with another one. It has just led them to become inactive.
Bullard goes on to explain a few potential reasons why these members may have become inactive – family changes, personal crises, disagreements with other congregants, and issues with individual sin.
If your congregation discovered it had a large number of “Chreasters,” how would you want to explore that issue? You may want to examine what caused them to become Chreasters, whether it was one of the causes Bullard outlines or a different concern. Perhaps you may want to question what, if anything, the congregation would need to do to commit more time and presence to the congregation. You may want to ask these marginal members how they view the religious community from their perspective. You’ll likely get new and often unheard voices contributing to the discussions about the health and vitality of the congregation. What other questions would be useful to ask to these parishioners? And how would you reach out to them in ways that wouldn’t alienate them, but assure them that their voice is important to the broader view of the congregation.