You spend a lot of your time trying to grow your ministry. When it comes to the mission of the church, it seems almost unthinkable to reach fewer people. Eternity hangs in the balance. And every person represents a potentially transformed life. The desire to grow is also part of human nature, isn’t it? In any organization, none of us really want to reach fewer people or have less impact. And yet sometimes, one of the best things you can do to become even more effective at accomplishing your mission is to invite people to leave your church.
It might kill you to entertain the thought of people leaving (it still kills a part of me).
But hang on.
I believe you’ll be a better leader and your organization will be more effective if you can embrace this truth.
But I realize it’s completely counterintuitive.
That feeling in the pit of your stomach…
Like you, it bothers me every time someone leaves.
When I first started in ministry, it hurt so much every time someone left. I felt like I had let them down, like I let the church down, like I had failed.
I also felt as though if I had been a better leader, I would have been able to keep them.
For a season, it hurt so much I pretended I didn’t care any more. But I did. I do.
I realize some of this is irrational and much of it might be unhealthy, but it hurts when someone goes.
However, if you let it fester, you’ll begin to live in fear all the time.
In fact, you can end up with people-pleasing as your main goal. You will lead in a way that you hope is going to prevent the greatest number of people from leaving.
That’s a terrible strategy.
The moment you begin to focus more on who you want to keep rather than who you want to reach, you put the mission in danger.
I’ve been inviting people to subscribe to my blog. It’s a great way to communicate and a key to connecting with people.
Over the last 22 months, the list of subscribers has gone from zero to over 4,800 people. Some months, I’m amazed at how quickly the list grows.
But every time I send an email, a handful of people unsubscribe. Sometimes one or two. Sometimes as many as 12 or 15.
And every time someone unsubscribes, I feel disappointed and sad.
I’ll often click over to see who it was, and I’ll ask myself questions like, “What did I do? What did I say? Could I have done anything different to keep them?”
Meanwhile (don’t miss this), I might have had 15 or 30 people (sometimes more) sign up that day to my email list.
But do I click over to see who they were?
Sadly, often I don’t.