One of the most difficult aspects of ministry is to view your church through the eyes of your visitors. Everything your church does is based on the goal of reaching new people in your community. Some are churched, many are not. All have different perspectives that we can learn from. Unfortunately, many churches don’t have a clue why people come — and go.
If our goal is to connect as many people as possible to the Gospel and the community within our church, it’s important for us to understand what they are feeling and thinking. We cannot address everyone’s unique preferences, but we can still learn things that inform us about how to better connect with the kind of people we are trying to reach.
A few weeks ago, I ran across a fascinating article that provided an ‘inside look’ into why some people are leaving the church. Today, I thought it might be helpful to highlight some of the reasons given and what you can do as a church leader to address the issues before someone decides to slip out the back door.
Three things people leaving your church want you to know
Here are three ideas from the article that stood out most (and what you can do to close the back door):
- “I don’t want to be your project.” While the people leaving your church might feel empty, no one likes to feel as if they need to be ‘fixed’. As a church leader, you have the ability to create an environment where authentic restoration is taking place without making people feel like they are a project. This means that your greeters understand the importance of creating a welcoming experience for guests without seeming ‘over the top’ or inauthentic. It happens when you’re transparent in the way you communicate how the Gospel has transformed your own life.
- “I crave authentic community.” Real life transformation happens when community intersects with our messy lives. This isn’t something that scares the people who are leaving your church, but they want to be able to dive into that community in their time. As a church leader, it’s important for you to remember that even with the best processes and systems in place, at the end of the day relationships are what draw people into authentic community.
- “I need you to respect my boundaries.” While the people leaving your church crave community, they still want you to respect their boundaries. Some people need the time to observe before they make a decision to join your church. As a church leader, you have to be very intentional about the way you move people through the connections process without making them feel like they’re taking part in ‘forced fellowship’ or empty community.
I didn’t agree with everything is the article, but still found some useful insight. You won’t agree with every opinion people have about your church but, again, being teachable about it can only help you. If you want to stem the flow of people who are leaving your church, it’s important to understand the thoughts that are going through their minds and speak to them. Take a step back every now and then to think about your church from their perspective.
What are some ways you stay connected to the way a casual church attendee or first-time guest thinks about your church? What are you doing to address those thoughts?