The most important part of growth is retention.
There are innate desires in every church to spread the Good News of the Gospel, to reach the “unchurched”, to minister to those in need, to be a valued resource in the communities they serve, to have congregants that are thriving spiritually. And to grow.
There are many things that can affect a church’s ability to grow. For the scope of this blog post, we will look at one deemed the most important – retention. How do you keep new members coming? How do you prevent existing members from dropping out?
We have gathered a few points to consider when dealing with issues of growth especially as it relates to retention:
1. Encouraging and developing a sense of community.
- The Church is the body of Christ. We are all connected through the sacrifices Jesus made for us because of His love for us. Being in an environment that promotes this sense of connectedness increases a person’s level of commitment and relevance to that place. You can accomplish this in several ways – following up on missing members, visiting or sending cards to the sick and shut-in or recently bereaved and reaching out to members having good or bad life issues. When we connect to a place we feel that authentic sense of community.
- This one may require you to review your definition of what active and pew members are. For the scope of this post, we are defining pew member as someone who attends and give regularly and does nothing else. We want members to attend and give regularly. We also want members to have an active role in the mission and life of the Church and this involves doing something. Figuring out how to motivate members to action is a subject worthy of its own blog post. One place to start could simply be making members aware of what service opportunities are available or having a “Ministry Fair” where they can visually see the different areas people are actively serving in the church.
- It is easy for a new member to blend in to the background and slip out of the back door. Having new membership classes provides an opportunity for new members to get to know your church, your tenets, your pastor and staff. It also provides an opportunity for you to get to know your new members. This is also an opportunity to have people or couples mentor the new members to help foster a sense of community. Remember number one?
- Small Groups and Sunday School offer another place for spiritual growth and development in the church and an opportunity for a deeper connection between members as they grow in Christ. Encouraging member attendance in Sunday School, Life Groups, Small Groups, etc. is an easy way to get them involved in the life of the church.
- When people join a church, they come expecting something. But what? Members knowing what they can expect from a church and what a church expects from them can go a long way in avoiding feelings of disillusionment. By setting expectations, you clarify the church’s and the individual’s role in that person’s spiritual wholeness. These expectations make clear what a member’s responsibilities are to the church. With so many people shopping churches to meet individualistic needs, it is also a chance to refocus them on the purpose of the Church.
- Unfortunately, anywhere people gather conflict will arise. With different levels of spiritual maturity, personalities and backgrounds in a church, issues and conflicts are sure to occur. Having biblically based strategies in place to deal with conflict in a timely manner can often prevent these issues from getting out of hand and spreading.
Our mission is to provide software and financial tools needed to help ministries and organizations thrive.
Recently Shelby Systems and Ministry Brands assembled several of our Android/iOS developers, plus other stakeholders in Memphis to discuss our long-term strategy for mobile ministry. It was an exciting discussion with people from multiple brands and divisions, all focused on the common goal of building tools that move ministry forward. We want to put amazing capabilities into the hands of pastors, volunteers and church parishioners. Coming out of the mobile summit, our product leadership will be constructing a plan to deliver new technology to “small screens” in this calendar year. Be watching for new, cutting-edge mobile tools from Shelby Systems in 2016 and beyond.
June is the traditional month for weddings. Pastors and other church staff have a plethora of stories to tell about weddings they have officiated. Thom S. Rainer (President and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources) has gathered these true occurrences and become the pastor’s spokesperson.
No names have been used to protect the innocent.
1. During the vows, the bride said no.
2. An 18-year old young lady came in with her fiancé to see the pastor, who was 38 years old. The pastor said lightheartedly that this wedding was the first where he could actually be the father of the bride. The 18-year-old lit up and chirped, “Cool! You knew my mom?” Her fiancé had to explain to her what the pastor meant. She cried.
3. The bride and her father fought with light sabers coming down the aisle to music from Star Wars. Neither the pastor nor the groom knew what was happening.
4. The uncle of the bride sent a request in since he could not attend. He asked someone to read 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love; instead perfect love drives out fear.” Unfortunately, the reader quoted John 4:18 at the wedding: “For you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.”
5. The air conditioning was not working well for this summer wedding in the church; so all the windows were open. As the soloist was singing with a booming operatic voice, a fly went in her mouth. The song ended.
6. The bride fainted during the wedding. Four times.
7. The pastor did an outdoor wedding with several people in attendance who weren’t wearing shirts (the pastor did not specify the gender of these people). The bride had a cigarette the entire service.
8. Guy in the sound booth started the wrong music during a wedding. Everyone got to hear “The Lady is a Tramp.”
9. A couple requested the pastor to do a beach wedding. But they first wanted to see his bare feet to make sure they would look acceptable for the wedding.
10. The groom’s ex-wife stood in the back of the sanctuary yelling “not” as the pastor read 1 Corinthians 13.
11. Pastor was officiating a wedding on the bay when a man comes up in a paddleboat and says, “Don’t do it.” The bride responds by yelling expletives at him.
12. At another outdoor wedding, the bride and groom were joined in the front by a goat as the vows began.
13. This outdoor wedding had a stray dog as a guest. He kept bringing a tennis ball to the pastor and putting it at his feet.
14. A pastor was asked to officiate a wedding by talking through an animatronic deer head.
15. During the wedding service, a guest’s phone loudly declares, “You have reached your destination.”
Take a few minutes to check out the highlights from our recent mission trip to El Salvador. In these few minutes you will hear a brief history of Compassion International and see video and photo highlights from the trip.
The National Day of Prayer is a vital part of our heritage. Since the first call to prayer in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation, the call to prayer has continued through our history, including President Lincoln’s proclamation of a day of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer” in 1863. In 1952, a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Truman, declared an annual national day of prayer. In 1988, the law was amended and signed by President Reagan, permanently setting the day as the first Thursday of every May. Each year, the president signs a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day. Last year, all 50 state governors plus the governors of several U.S. territories signed similar proclamations.
The National Day of Prayer belongs to all Americans. It is a day that transcends differences, bringing together citizens from all backgrounds. Mrs. Shirley Dobson, NDP chairman, reminds us: “We have lost many of our freedoms in America because we have been asleep. I feel if we do not become involved and support the annual National Day of Prayer, we could end up forfeiting this freedom, too.”
Like Thanksgiving or Christmas, this day has become a national observance placed on all Hallmark calendars and observed annually across the nation and in Washington, D.C. Every year, local, state, and federal observances are held from sunrise in Maine to sunset in Hawaii, uniting Americans from all socio-economic, political and ethnic backgrounds in prayer for our nation. It is estimated that over two million people have attended more than 30,000 observances – organized by approximately 40,000 volunteers. At state capitols, county court houses, on the steps of city halls, and in schools, businesses, churches and homes, people stop their activities and gather for prayer.
For the May 5th, 2016 observances, Dr. Tony Evans, the 2016 Honorary Chairman, wrote a special prayer to be simultaneously read throughout the nation at noon (ET). This recitation will create a huge wave of prayer, flowing from one coast to the other, illustrating the unity of God’s people and acknowledging His dominion over the circumstances facing us.
“The Church should be the conscience of the culture, and it has never been needed more than it is today, with our land facing a myriad of problems ranging from family breakdowns to the immigration crisis to the abiding racial divide. Tragically, as the fabric of our country unravels, we fail to see the spiritual problems that are at the root of our national malaise.”
“God is trying to get our attention. Many people want “God bless America,” but they don’t want “One Nation under God.” The problem is you can’t have one without the other.”
Dr. Tony Evans – honorary chairman of the National Day of Prayer
For more information visit: http://www.nationaldayofprayer.org.
Ministry Brands and Shelby Systems have just returned from a Vision Trip to El Salvador where we visited a Child Development Center that we are helping to sponsor. El Salvador is one of the most dangerous nations on Earth, and unfortunately the children seem to be suffering the most. Gang warfare, natural disasters, violent crime and extreme poverty are experienced daily. Jeanne Wilkinson of Compassion International joins us in the mountainous village of Caserio El Tablón to talk about what the team accomplished. Together we’ll discover what can be done and how you can help. Don’t miss our May Shelby Podcast for this life-changing interview, and make sure you watch the end of the video for some fun music with Mike and the Compassion
The original God’s Not Dead film was the surprise hit of 2014 earning over $60m with a buget of only $2m and winning KLOVE’s TV/Film Impact Award. The Impact award is voted on by KLOVE audiences nationwide. According to the movie producrers, an estimated 7+ million souls have been impacted, stretched and emboldened by experiencing the powerful message of God’s Not Dead. The sequel (which features an entirely new cast) debuts in theathers nationally today.
Here is the film review from PluggedIn:
Grace Wesley (Melissa Joan Hart) is neither a troublemaker nor a crusader. But when this conscientious Christian and public high school history teacher answers some honest questions about Jesus posed to her by a struggling, seeking student, she soon finds herself in trouble and at the forefront of a crusade … to prove that God is still not dead.
It’s high school junior Brooke Thawley (Hayley Orrantia) who asks one innocent question. She’s struggling to make sense of her brother’s tragic death.
Brooke wants to know how Gandhi’s and Martin Luther King Jr.’s commitments to nonviolent protest compared to Jesus’ teachings, Grace replies, “The writer of the gospel of Matthew records Jesus as saying, ‘You have heard it said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you will be children of your father in heaven.”‘ Then she quotes Dr. King: “Christ furnished the spirit and motivation, while Gandhi furnished the method.'”
The ensuing courtroom conflict revolves around the question of whether Grace’s quotation of Jesus involves a violation of “division of church and state.” Eventually, Grace and Tom (her lawyer) settle on a legal strategy in which they try to prove that because Jesus was a real historical figure, His quoted words are as acceptable to talk about in a history class as those of Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr.
Real life expert witnesses Lee Strobel, author of The Case for Christ, and James Warner Wallace, a former homicide detective who wrote Cold Case Christianity are called to the stand to offer evidence.
Brooke, meanwhile, applies what she’s learned in class about nonviolent protests to organize pro-God picketing at school and the courthouse.
“Cases where the religious freedoms of everyday men and women are being restricted by courts and government agencies are sadly quite common today,” says Michael Scott, producer and founding partner of the Christian film distribution company Pure Flix. “Our hope is that we can start a conversation in the country with this movie about how critical the right to believe—and to talk about that belief in public—is to our nation.”
A list of over 20 real-life legal challenges to religious freedom can be seen scrolling during the credits.