Regular attendance can be defined in a number of different ways: Does your church consider 2-3 Sundays per month as regular? If you're in ministry, you know that many people have their own definition of what they deem regular is; how does your church deal with inconsistency? Are you in an area where winter recreation pulls people away from church (I'm guilty here, being in Colorado). Is your church located in a college town where summers are sparse when staff and students are away?
The fact is, the way we define a “regular attender” has changed dramatically over the last decade. Many church leaders I speak to consider anyone who shows up for something at least twice a month to be a regular attender.
So, is there anything we can do to engage those inconsistent church attenders and improve their involvement? Dr. Thom Rainer offers these four tips to improve membership engagement and retention:
1) Set the expectation right away. Membership is more than a name on a roster. Members will give of their time and treasure. Be sure you have a way to explain to people what ministry impact looks like and how they can be a part of it.
2) Get people plugged into ministry right away. Identify people’s gifts, talents and passions. Then help them find volunteer opportunities which align. This needs to occur within the first six months of membership to ensure they become more than pew-sitters.
3) Get to know people. People feel valued when they feel “known”. Be sure you learn as much as you can about people and then record it somewhere. This allows you to “invite” people to go deeper based on relationship, not obligation.
4) Connect people to a small group. Whether it’s involvement in a Bible study, in a weekly small group, or on the worship team, involvement with a group is critical to more sustainable involvement.
Speaking from my own experience, when churches I have attended do these things well, I am less inclined to miss being there. The greater depth of community simply compels me to make my church attendance a priority.
There are several other areas to consider if your church is doing a good job with these four. And here’s a resource from Church Community Builder that can help you identify and measure your retention data effectively.
How is your church doing in these four areas? What are some of the other factors that lead to improved retention?