If you want to close the back door in your church, read these five incredible steps.
By "closing the back door," I am referring to assimilating or keeping those who have already become a part of the church. The sad reality is that many churches have less than one-half of their members show up at any one point. They are "walking out the back door."
Why Are These Steps So Incredible?
Words have meaning. We are always in danger of miscommunicating, misleading, or overstating. When I use the word "incredible," I do so for a very specific reason. In this case, I am simply saying I know that these steps are working in practice in churches. They are not merely the theory of one guy behind a keyboard.
In fact, I had a conversation with a pastor this week who told me the assimilation rate in his church the past two years was over 90 percent. Did you read that statement carefully? Nine out of ten of those who connected with the church the past two years are still active in the church.
The Five Steps
The process is not difficult. It just requires execution and persistence. Once begun, these five steps become a natural flow of the church's ministry.
1. Have a mission statement that includes the importance of members getting involved in a group. For example, if the mission statement is "Love God, Connect with Others, Serve Others, and Give Abundantly," the second part of the mission statement ("Connect with Others") would refer to the importance of a church member getting involved in a small group, Sunday school class, or some other group.
2. Communicate the importance of groups in your new members' class. In fact, some churches actually require the prospective member to connect with a group as a requisite for membership. This statement obviously assumes that the church has a new members' class in place.
3. Make certain the church is intentional about starting new groups. This step is very important if you are diligently moving new members to groups. New groups, particularly, will be attractive to these new members. They will not have to break into existing relationship patterns.
4. Have a leadership group review the status of new members at least once a quarter. In the church I mentioned early, the ministry staff takes that initiative. Some church leaders do this review once a month; others do so once a quarter. One of the primary purposes of this review is to determine if the new church member has become active in a group.
5. Follow-up persistently if a church member is not in a group. Another church I know has a "meal plan" follow-up. They make certain an existing member of a group takes the new member out to eat, and invites him or her to join the group. The success rate has been very high.
Why These Steps Are So Important
Church members in a group are more likely to read their Bibles regularly. They are more likely to share their faith. They give more abundantly to the church. And they are much more likely to "stick" with the church over time. In fact, in earlier studies, I found that a member who was in a group was five times more likely to stick with a church than a member who was not.
So, these five steps are not some new entrepreneurial discovery. They are basic. They get people in the Word studying with others. They engender new relational connections. They create an implicit system of accountability.
And they also get members to stick.
The back door is closed.