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It’s Not Always You: Why People Leave Your Church and How to Keep Them

#3 – Define next steps

After you know how to define church membership, you’re ready to define next steps.

A next step in your church is the next step a first-time guest or visitor can take to get further involved with your church and to grow in their relationship with Christ.

Gary Poole, the author of Seeker Small Groups, stressed the importance of next steps, saying, “It is essential for us to make clear ‘next step’ options available. Without them, the potential impact of each weekend element would be significantly weakened.”

This process needs to be simple, clear and compelling. This way, everyone in your church and people visiting your church will know the next steps they can take.

To get a better idea of what I’m talking about, here are examples from different churches:

It’s ideal to make your next steps available online and in person. This makes it easy for anyone to learn more about the next steps at any time.

#4 – Get a tracking system

The last foundational piece you need to have is a tracking system.

I’m not saying you need to leave a “mark” on everyone who visits your church and track their whereabouts. But you will need a system to keep track of the members of your church and the people who visit.

Today, you don’t have to rely on spreadsheets and sticky notes.

You can use church management software (ChMS) to stay in touch with people and follow up with first-time guests. There are several software solutions you can use for your church.

The big idea is that you pick the one that best meets your needs and helps you keep track of people.

Four key next steps you must provide visitors

With your foundation in place, you’re ready to build a system to keep people connected with your church.

Here four key next steps you must provide:

  • Worship
  • Spiritual growth
  • Service
  • Relationships

Let’s take a look at the practical details!

#1 – Worship

The first step you need to take is to lead people to your worship service.

There are a host of benefits people experience when they regularly participate in a worship service. But one of the biggest things you need to be aware of is that regular worship attendance will cultivate a higher commitment to your church.

According to one study, people who attend a worship service once per week are twice as likely to be completely committed to attending their church than people who visit twice per month.

To encourage worship attendance, preach on this topic, include it in your membership class, and make this a part of your church membership.

As for first-time guests and visitors, you’ll need to implement a follow-up process.

After someone works up the courage to visit your church, it’s essential to follow up with him or her to thank them for visiting, and to invite them to worship with you again.

If you have a process in place, here’s how you can measure the effectiveness of your church’s follow up.

#2 – Spiritual growth

Another step you want to encourage people to take is toward spiritual growth.

For some people, the first step they need to take is committing to Jesus or getting baptized. You will need to consistently promote these two steps to your church. Leading people to commit their life to Christ and to publicly display their commitment through baptism is essential.

But here’s the deal:

Spiritual growth does not end with placing your faith in Jesus—it only begins.

As a church, you can help to cultivate the spiritual growth of your members and minimize those wanting to leave your church through a variety of means, including:

  • Intentional Discipleship Relationships / Mentor Relationships (think Jesus with His three)
  • Bible studies
  • Prayer
  • Resources

For Bible studies, your church can offer classes or short-term groups which meet throughout the year to study the Bible or theology.

Don’t think Bible studies are a good option?

Think again.

According to LifeWay Research, 19 percent of the people they polled expressed interest in their church providing more Bible study groups. Like any group or ministry in your church, Bible studies won’t be attended by everyone at all times. But it’s a felt need by a significant portion of your church.

You can also encourage your church to read the Bible together as a whole. Many churches follow a Bible reading plan together, which can spur on conversation and accountability.

Everyone in your church needs prayer.

Be sure to provide an opportunity for people to seek out prayer from your staff, church leadership or church members.

Another step you can help people to take in their spiritual journey is toward resources.

From selling books at a discounted rate to providing access to biblical resources from Rightnow Media, there are many ways your church can serve as a resource to your people.