When People Leave Your Church

Nothing hurts worse in ministry than when people leave the church. You can’t help but take it personally. It’s almost like having your girlfriend break up with you after going to church camp. “It’s not you, it’s me.”


I was attending a funeral this week when the latest break up happened.

“Hey, it feels like I haven’t seen you in forever. I keep missing you at church.”

“Yeah, been meaning to talk to you about that. My girlfriend and I have decided to see other churches.”

“Oh, that’s cool…so, what about this weather?”

Break ups are awkward to begin with. Break ups at a funeral take it to another level.

From my experience it seems that break ups can be either good or bad.

Lady who was always complaining about the music volume: Good breakup.

Man who was a top giver year after year: Bad breakup.

Good break ups take place when it’s obvious to both parties that they’re not right for each other. We had a good break up this week when an elderly couple visited our church for the first time and left before worship was over. We caught them in the parking lot and suggested a couple of churches they should start seeing. No hard feelings, and no one got hurt.

Bad break ups take place when one party can’t see that the other has moved on. Maybe at one time the person or church was right for the other, but they’ve since grown apart. If you’re not careful hurtful words can be said, and bridges can be burned. I’ve been involved in a few of these as well.

The hardest break ups for me are both good and bad. They’re break ups in which good people leave for good reasons. Perhaps, they move away, they get married, or they feel God calling them somewhere new. These are the toughest because they involve the people you truly love and care about the most.

When you love a church, like I love my church, it’s hard to understand why someone would ever want to leave. Yet, they do, and you can either sit back and look for answers or wish them well and look for someone new to love.

What’s the hardest loss you’ve ever had at your church? How did you cope with it? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

The Best & Worst Ways to Recruit Volunteers

You don’t have to be a pastor to realize that a church needs volunteers. Whether it’s to play music, watch kids, or mow the lawn, you have to have volunteers. Most of the time you need a lot of them, but how do you go about finding them?


Chances are they’re not going to be lined up outside your office door, so you’re going to need to recruit them. There are several ways to do this. We’ve tried just about everything, and in my experience here are some of the best and worst ways to go about it.

  • Website – Success Rate 0-5%. I don’t believe we’ve ever had anyone sign up to volunteer through our website. We provide a lot of information about volunteering. It just doesn’t translate into people taking that step.
  • Social Media Posts – Success Rate 0-5%. “Hey, if you’d like to start serving at our church, comment below.” This is about as effective as the website, yet I keep trying it from time to time.
  • Stage Announcement – Success Rate 10-15%. Slightly more effective than a social media post, this has diminishing returns meaning the more you do it, the less effective it becomes.
  • Facebook Message – Success Rate 15-20%. This is a direct message to the person you’re asking to volunteer. I’ve used this method several times in the past year with decent results.
  • Face-to-Face (from a staff member or volunteer) – Success Rate 25-40%. Having a staff member or volunteer leader ask a person face-to-face is one of the most effective ways to recruit volunteers, however there is one better way.
  • Face-to-Face (from a friend) – Success Rate 50% or better. Having someone who’s already volunteering invite their friend to volunteer with them is the single most effective way to gain volunteers.

So, with statistics like this, why do some many churches rely on stage announcements to recruit volunteers? I think I’ve figured out the answer.

There’s no chance of rejection with a stage announcement. Sure, maybe no one signs up, but you don’t really feel the rejection, not like a face-to-face conversation.

A no face-to-face stings a little. A no face-to-face can get awkward. But face-to face-conversations have the best chance of getting a yes, and here’s why.

As worried as you are about them saying no, they’re just as worried about disappointing you. The closer you are to a person, the more they don’t want to disappoint you.

This is one of the reasons why a face-to-face between friends has the best success rate. Neither wants to disappoint the other.

So, the next time you need to recruit some volunteers, I hope you’ll do it face-to-face.

What would you add to the list? Do the percentages seem accurate for your church? Let me know in the comments below.

Start an Email Newsletter

One Thing Series

This post is a part of the “One Thing” series. Often we feel like we have to take drastic steps in our life or church to see significant change, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes the small things create the biggest impact. In this series, we’ll focus on “One Thing” you can do that will get you and your church moving in the right direction.


Despite the rise in social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, email remains the best online tool for communicating with a larger audience.

Now, I’m assuming all of you reading this know how to use email, but does your church have an email newsletter? If not, you should, and here are a few reasons why.

  1. It saves time and looks more professional than regular email.
  2. It can encourage people to take next steps, such as reading their Bible, praying with their kids, or signing up to begin serving.
  3. It can increase traffic to your church website or social media accounts.
  4. It can increase church attendance by giving a preview of what’s to come the following week.
  5. It’s free and easy to get started.

There are several different email newsletter services you can use including AWeber, Constant Contact, and Mailchimp, just to name a few.

I highly recommend Mailchimp. It’s easy to use and free up to 2,000 subscribers. Here’s what you’ll need to do to get started.

Step One

Go online to mailchimp.com, and click “Sign Up Free.” Type in your email, choose a username and password, and click “Create My Account.” It takes less than 30 seconds.

Step Two

Check your inbox for an email from Mailchimp. Open the email and click “Activate Account.” Confirm you’re not a robot, and you’re ready to go. On the next page, you’ll need to enter all the information about yourself and your organization.

Pay careful attention to the question, “Do you have a list of emails to import into Mailchimp?” Hopefully, you’ve been using a connection card on Sunday mornings, so you already have a list of emails ready to import. If not, start using a connection card as soon as possible so you can collect this type of information.

Don’t forget to check the box beside, “Subscribe to Mailchimp Getting Started Emails.” Those emails will come in handy. Ok, you should be ready to click “Save and Get Started.

Step Three

Real quick, go back to your inbox and look for the Welcome to Mailchimp email. This email will walk you through importing your list, creating campaigns, running reports and more.

Alright, at this point, you should be good to go. All you need to do is decide on your content. You can use your newsletters to tell your congregation about upcoming series, send them devotionals, or spotlight a volunteer. The opportunities are endless. I can’t wait to hear about how you connect.

If you have any questions about setting up Mailchimp or just have a comment, please let me know. I’d love to serve you better.