Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Closing the Back Door so Fewer will Leave

Why do people leave a church? There are many reasons. Some of them are:

• Move away
• Experience a major change such as divorce, death, or other trauma
• Lose faith
• Become conflicted with the pastor, church leaders, or other members
• Grow cold spiritually

Surveys show that church leaders believe that members leave primarily because they are angry or unhappy with something or someone in the church. On the other hand, most people say they leave a church because they have experienced a major change in their life. This "disconnect" between the two parites is a major source of misunderstanding and is a loose-loose situation for everyone involved.

This also means, of course, that exiting members offer a major opportunity for congregations to reach out and provide ministry. Sadly, most do not. Even sadder, most congregations don’t really know when people are leaving. They usually find out too late, such as six months later. This means it is important to have ways of noticing when people leave and an adequate follow up plan.

Some churches have leaders who will call all the members regularly to check in and talk informally. Obviously, the larger a church, the more systematic this process needs to be. Perhaps the best back door monitoring device is smaller congregations within the main congregation, relational connections, and friendships. It's very possible for people to withdraw from a large church and be gone for several months before being missed. Yet when a person misses their community group, that person is immediately missed.

No sermon series on Christian caring, no membership drive, no every-member canvass, can ever take the place of actually caring for people and making contact.

No comments: