These series of blogs will help you keep the people you reach and help you discern if your church is more like Teflon or Velcro?
We have a twofold challenge…getting new people to attend and getting people to stick after they join and not slide off.
So is your church currently more like Velcro, people stick and stay, or Teflon, people join and then stop attending and slide into oblivion?
“Assimilation” is the whole process of creating a climate where people feel welcome, “practicing hospitality,” showing people the love of Christ, leading them to become followers of Christ, and connecting them to the church.
If churches are not intentional in this process, they become a revolving door with as many people going out the back door as they have coming through the front door. We are taking the letters of the word V.E.L.C.R.O. to illustrate some ideas and specific helps. In Part 1, we looked at the letters V and E. In Part 2, we will look at the letter L.
L is for Lead people to Christ and church membership
That is what we are aiming at as we move first time guests to become second time guests (what I call boomerang guests) then regular attendees. We desire regular attendees to hear the Gospel and experience salvation if they are lost. Then we desire for them to experience believers’ baptism and church membership.
Charles Arn has researched guest stats and they are very interesting. His group discovered that guest volume needs to be 4% to 5% of worship attendance in order for a church to be in a growth situation. What would you say is your average guest volume?
He also noted that the guest retention-average of non-growing churches is 9%. Growing churches average 21%. In other words growing churches are seeing over twice as many guests return multiple times as non growing churches. We often put lots of energy and time into getting people to attend for the first time and we should, but we need as much effort, energy and focus on getting them to come back for the second and third time!
The average church loses 5% to 8% of its attendees each year. Part of the reason is the fact that the back door is open and people are leaving for various reasons. Churches must do all they can to close this door.
One way to help your new members stick is to offer a membership class. Call it Connections, Membership 101, Discovery, or give it any name you desire, but by all means start one! The following are some components of Saddleback’s new member’s class and I have found most churches to be similar in what they offer. Commercial…We are offering some great helps on the whole process of assimilation at our Super Saturdays this Fall so check it out.
- OUR SALVATION
— Making Sure You Are A Christian
— The Symbols of Salvation (Baptism & Communion)
— Our Purpose Statement: Why we exist
— Our Vision Statement: What we intend to do
— Our Faith Statement: What we believe
— Our Values Statement: What we practice
- OUR STRATEGY
— A Brief History of our church
— Who We Are Trying To Reach (Our Target)
— Our Life Development Process To Help You Grow
- OUR STRUCTURE
— How Our Church Is Organized For Growth
— Our Affiliation
— What It Means To Be a Member
— What Is My Next Step After Joining?
I believe the pastor needs to be heavily involved in this class. You can use other church leaders and staff but new members desire to see the pastor leading this class. The class could be taught during Sunday School, Sunday or Wednesday nights, or in one afternoon setting. As a pastor I found that lots of folks preferred coming and doing it all in one setting. We conducted ours from @3:30 to 6:30 on Sunday evenings with great success. We included a meal but I usually kept on teaching during most of the meal. You can actually get more teaching done in one three hour block of time than four once a week one hour settings.
As the pastor I strongly urged all new members to attend and also sent personal letters to regular attendees inviting them. What we discovered was that if we could get guests to go through the class over 90% joined in the next month. Wow! When I made this connection I intentionally tried to get as many people as possible to go through the class. People want to know your heart and vision as the pastor and they want to know you.
A new member class is a vital step in the assimilation process. Do you offer one? What can you do to tweak the one you have it in order to be more effective?