Did you know that on average 15% of your congregation will no longer be attending your church next year? This happens for a variety of reasons. Some people move away, some people switch churches, and some people just stop going to church altogether. So, if you’re not finding a way to replace these people, your church will be declining in attendance every year. This is a scary thought for most churches, and most of us have experienced this.
So, what do you do when people are leaving your church?
There are really only two options.
- You try to get them to stay.
- You try to get new people in.
Here’s the thing, no matter how hard you try to get people to stay, there’s always going to be a certain percentage that leave every year. There’s not much you can do about it. Sure, you can concentrate on getting them better connected and those types of things, but even then some people are going to leave.
So, your best bet is to try to get new people in. Even in small towns like mine, there are still hundreds of people who have never visited our church. Plus, there are new people moving into the community every year. We just have to get them to show up.
The best way to do that is through personal invites. Your church people inviting their friends, family, coworkers, the lady at the bank, the guy at the supermarket, etc. This is how it should be happening.
If it’s not, there may be a few reasons why.
- Your church is awkward. Church is a place where weird things tend to happen, and not all of them are from God. My church has certainly been guilty of this from time to time. One time we hired a church consultant to come in, and it just so happened that on that Sunday a guy got really “happy” and decided it would be appropriate to do some kind of weird dance all around the sanctuary during worship. The consultant made sure to mention it in his report. When weird things happen in our church services, people are less likely to invite their friends because they want their friends to meet Jesus not be scared away from the church.
- Your church isn’t friendly. The friendliness of a church plays a huge role in whether or not guests come back or are even invited in the first place. If people are worried about what the greeters may say to a guest or about what may happen if a guest gets someone’s seat, then they’re not going to invite their friends.
- Your church’s singing and/or preaching is bad. Quality matters. It matters at the places you choose to eat at, it matters at the place you buy your vehicles from, and it certainly matters in the church. If you let people sing that everyone knows can’t sing, just know you’re hurting the chances of people being invited to your church. The same can be said of preaching. If you’re more concerned with how loud you can yell and scream or how well you can explain the ecclesiology of the 3rd century church than you are about introducing people to Jesus Christ, then don’t be surprised if no one new ever shows up.
- Your church has a terrible kid’s ministry. Or maybe it doesn’t have a kid’s ministry at all, and so all of the kids are in the sanctuary distracting everyone else by sticking out their tongues and dropping gum in their mom’s hair. Either way, no one is inviting anyone who has kids if you don’t have a good kid’s ministry. If you want more young families at your church, then you better be ready to spend your time, money, and resources on kids.
- Your church isn’t reaching new people. The sad reality is that people who’ve been in your church the longest tend to invite the fewest. The longer most Christians are in church, the less Non-Christian friends they have. This is why getting new people in our church is so important. New people are much more likely to invite new people, as long as your church isn’t awkward, unfriendly, etc.
Sometimes it confuses people as to why someone would go to a church but not be willing to invite their friends to it. Sadly, what I’ve seen is that many people will go to a church that they don’t enjoy because of pressure from their family or friends.
What’s the most awkward thing that’s ever happened in your church? Leave a comment, and let’s all get a laugh from it. Also, if you need help in making your church more inviting, send me an email, and let’s connect. I’d love to share more about what we’ve learned.