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.
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