Saturday, May 30, 2009

We're Growing

Job 8:7 Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.

I believe that people come to church because, 1. they have a need, they continue coming because, 2. their need is being met, they become faithful when, 3. they themselves become needed.

Studies show of all the people who've dropped out of church, 80% left in the first year of their church involvement. If you can keep people a year, you'll probably keep them 20 years. The year begins when people start attending regularly enough to consider it a habit.

80% is a significant amount because people don't join planning to drop out. A key to keeping these is realizing that it is not up to the newcomers to assimilate themselves. It's something the church must be intentional about doing in the first year or they'll lose them. Who's responsible for the well-being of a baby -- the baby or its parents? Obviously a good parent will take 100 percent of the responsibility for the care of the baby, and the same is true of "baby" members.

Over time they develop maturity and connectedness, but it's not there at the beginning. We assume that "we're a friendly church." Pretty much all churches say they are a friendly church. And they are -- to each other, but to newcomers it's a whole different matter. The church "knows" they're friendly, so they can't imagine how newcomers don't feel the same thing. But it just doesn't happen that way.

It's interesting that there is a pattern to them leaving over the course of the year. There's a huge peak in months five to seven when about 60 percent of them leave. They come to realize that the need that brought them to the church in the first place is not being met. There's another spike in months 11 and 12 when about 35 percent of them leave. This is because by this time they should become needed themselves. If they have not found a place to serve by this time they "have a need" again and they will try another church to meet the need. The other 5 percent is scattered throughout the year.

We are seeing our church grow and as we grow, it is important that we remember to keep their focus on individuals and not numbers. A church is the people, not the buildings. People are unique individuals with unique gifts and talents. These individuals also come with their own issues and needs. For our church to continue to grow, we need to be prepared to meet the challenges and issues that these new people will bring with them. We need to pray, dream, and expect God to bless us with new and exciting people that will help us reach Leavenworth


ky preacher said...

How true a message. It is important that new people see not only that the pastor cares for them, but that the members show this as well. We need to avoid becoming the "First Church of the Frozen".

Johnny said...

Great post! We so need to focus on individuals!