I just went back through Membership Matters, by Chuck Lawless, which I recommended a few weeks ago, to review their ideas about membership, and was reminded of the following: Membership, Inquirers, whatever you call your class is vitally important to your church. These classes are important for potential members, frequent guests, longtime members who have forgotten the Vision and Mission of the church, or for that matter never knew it in the first place, and anyone else who wants to know more about your church. Go to our One-Stop-Shop and order the book now.
Some important facts:
80% of the people who leave a church leave within the first six month of their membership.
Churches who choose to not make membership/inquirers classes a priority are inviting attendees and members to remain uninvolved.
Well prepared and taught classes reduce the numbers of people who drop out and go out the back door. Make sure you use your very best teachers for this class.
These classes can be used as an intentional evangelistic tool.
These classes should be required for membership (even if these new members are transferring from other churches).
I’m sure that you can come up with a number of other ideas.
Requirements: Requiring everyone to take these classes will allow you to teach the members and non-members alike what the current vision of the church is, where you think the church is heading, and a time and place to encourage them to jump onboard and become an active member of the team.If you require all of your members and guests to take the class then you will need to plan for some slight and usually short lived plateau or decline in new members, but as soon as your guests and members understand the purpose of these classes’ things will quickly change. As old members and new members get plugged into your ministry the back door will begin to close.
Expectations: This is the most important aspect of the new member’s class. I once worked with a pastor who said that he would never tell new members that there were any expectations because they wouldn’t choose to join. Interestingly, 90% of the members of that class were gone in less than six months. I was one of the 10% who stayed—I was an employee. The back door will only close when you get members and regular guests involved in the church.
No pew sitters allowed:Don’t allow people to just be pew sitters no matter how old they are. Many of the churches long time members think that they “have done their duty and it’s time for them to sit back and relax,” but the church can’t afford for anyone to “sit back and relax. You need everyone out there spreading the “Good News” and those people who have been doing it for years need to be in the lead. One unproductive member will weaken the entire body just as one unproductive football team member will weaken the entire team.
Entry level ministry positions:You need to provide a number of entry level ministry positions. These are positions that don’t require any spiritual maturity. Things like parking lot attendants, coffee servers, welcome center escorts, custodial work, taking care of the yard, folding newsletters, and a number of other areas that are available in your church. Be creative. Get these people working.
Recruiting face to face:Generally your best recruiting tool is a face to face from a minister, a staff person or best of all from a member to guests. When your members understand the churches vision they will catch the excitement and begin to minister to the people around them and bring them to church. I have found over the years that your excited members are your best recruiters. Help them understand how to minister and evangelize their neighbors, co-workers and friends and your church will quickly become an exciting place to be.
Get everyone involved:The two most important things you can do for your church is: 1. Make sure that all of your members and guests understand the vision and mission of your church and 2. That you get all of your people involved, young and old alike. Don’t wait until tomorrow to begin planning, begin today. Don’t wait for tomorrow because tomorrow will never come. An active, growing church is exactly what God expects of us. Go for it.
© 2007, Ken Johnson, President and CEO of The Ken Johnson Group, LLC, Church Consultants. To contact Ken, or for permission to reprint this article, send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org