The importance of helping members develop friendships within a church cannot be overemphasized. Relationships are the glue that keep people connected to a church. Naturally, friendships are important in obtaining new members, but they are the key to retaining them.
One pastor took a survey in his church. When he asked, “Why did you join this church?” – 93% of the members said, “I joined because of the pastor.” He then asked, “What if the pastor leaves? Will you leave?” – 93% said “No.” When he asked why they wouldn’t leave, the response was “Because I have friends here!”
Do you notice the shift in allegiance? This is normal and healthy. Lyle Schaller has done extensive research that shows the more friendships a person has in a congregation, the less likely they are to become inactive or leave. In contrast, one survey asked 400 church drop-outs why they left their churches. Over 75% of the respondents said, “I didn’t feel anyone cared whether I was there or not.”
It is a myth that you must know everyone in the church in order to feel like a part of a church. The average church member knows 67 people in the congregation, whether the church has 200 or 2,000 attending. A member does not have to know everyone in the church in order to feel like the church is “his church” but he does have to know someone!
According to Flavil R. Yeakly, Jr., research demonstrated that newcomers who remain in a church more than six months have an average of 7 friends in their church. People who drop out of a church have an average of only 2 friends. Relationships are the glue that connect people to the church.