As a church leader, you know that each person in your worship services or small groups is valuable–every church member matters. You hope that each person will want to grow spiritually as a part of your church family. But you realize that people come and go. Every church will have losses. People move away or graduate to heaven. And it’s inevitable that some folks will leave the church despite its best efforts to help them belong. Sometimes God wants to replant them somewhere else. Sometimes it’s a matter of “fit.”
At the end of the day, church member retention is important.
Yet even though you realize that people come and go, you’d like to cut down on the “going” wherever possible. Is your church intentional in its efforts to retain the people who have come through your doors?
What can your church do to reduce the number of folks who drift out the back door of your church?
These three keys to church member retention can help:
1) Identify Where the Loss is Occurring
You may find that the majority of those leaving your church are part of a specific demographic. Are you losing young families? Senior adults? Families with teens? Young adults? Knowing where the loss is occurring gets you closer to understanding why the loss is happening. And knowing why will help you create the right solution.
2) Determine the Issue: Is it Process, Personnel, or Perception?
This gets to the “why.” Does your church have a process in place to keep track of people’s involvement? Some churches put a lot of effort into getting people in the front door but lack a process that helps them decide to stay.
If a specific demographic group is dwindling, it may be time to add personnel—paid or volunteer staff—to reach and retain those folks. Losses could also result from having the wrong people in place—say, a nursery director who gets annoyed by children.
Your church could be losing people because of differences in perception between the leaders and the people. The two groups might see things very differently. Leaders can lose touch with what their people are really experiencing in their church and in their lives. Some areas where there might be a leader/people disconnect:
- Vision. Is the leadership casting a clear vision? Are the people buying in?
- Worship. Are the worship services drawing people together, or perhaps alienating them?
- Relevance. Do the people feel that the leaders know them and understand their struggles?
- Spiritual health. Do the leaders know whether their people are spiritually healthy?
While any combination of these issues could be involved, knowing whether it’s mostly a matter of process, personnel or perception gives you a place to start in improving retention in your church.
3) Create the Right Solution
Anecdotes don’t tell the whole story. To really address retention, you need accurate information about your people’s attendance and involvement.
Church management software often has solutions to help churches close the back door to church attendance and membership. We’ve published several helpful lists of the 20 most user-friendly church management solutions as well as the 20 most affordable ChMS solutions.
Of course, no technology can substitute for a real, human connection. People want to know that they are personally loved and valued by others—especially by their church family. And once you’ve formed those meaningful personal connections, the right technology can help you to consistently maintain and deepen them.
And it’s feeling deeply connected that makes someone say, “This is where I belong.”
Below are some additional articles from around the web to help your church with membership retention:
- Four Principles for Membership Retention, Christianity Today
- Six Critical Issues to Prevent Church Members From Dropping Out, Christian Post