Church Dropout Blues

Gary McIntosh and Charles Arn recently released a delightful new book, What Every Pastor Should Know. I love the data and research in the book. One of my favorite sections dealt with retention of members. Two of the most critical findings were:

Of all the members who drop out of church, 82 percent leave in the first year of their membership. Retention efforts are thus critical in the first twelve months after a member joins a church.

The pattern of dropout is not random. Most leave close to their six-month tenure or close to their twelve-month tenure. So church members seem to give new churches a "test" at both six months and twelve months. If the church passes the test at six months, the member will stay for another six months. If the church passes the test at the one-year mark, the member is likely assimilated into the church.