Friendships are the key to retaining members. One pastor took a survey in his church. When he asked, “Why did you join this church?” – 93% of the members said, “I joined because of the pastor.” He then asked, “What if the pastor leaves? Will you leave?” – 93% said “No.” When he asked why they wouldn’t leave, the response was “Because I have friends here!”
Do you notice the shift in allegiance? This is normal and healthy. Lyle Schaller has done extensive research that shows the more friendships a person has in a congregation, the less likely they are to become inactive or leave. In contrast, one survey asked four hundred church drop-outs why they left their churches. Over 75% of the respondents said, “I didn’t feel anyone cared whether I was there or not.”
It is a myth that you must know everyone in the church in order to feel like a part of a church. The average church member knows 67 people in the congregation, whether the church has 200 or 2,000 attending. A member does not have to know everyone in the church in order to feel like its “my church” but he does have to know some people!
Every member should join a small group.
Small groups are crucial to the retention of members and newcomers. Not only do they help people connect with one another, they also allow our church to maintain a “small church” feeling of fellowship as it grows. There’s no possible way one pastor can provide complete care to a church of 200 or more. Small groups can provide the personal care and attention every member deserves no matter how big the church becomes.
Our church must always be growing larger and smaller at the same time. By that I mean there must be a balance between the large group worship services and the small group meetings. Both are important to the health of a church.
The large group celebrations give people the feeling that they’re a part of something significant. Large group meetings are impressive to unbelievers and are encouraging to our members. But you can’t share personal prayer requests in the Crowd.
Small affinity groups, on the other hand, are perfect for creating a sense of intimacy and close fellowship. It’s there that everybody knows your name. When you’re absent people notice. You’re missed if you don’t show up.
If you are not already involved in a small group then join one soon. You can join a small group that meets at church like a Bible Fellowship class or a ministry team. You may feel led to start a small group on your own. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be glad to help you get started! Always remember that people are not simply looking for a friendly church; they’re looking to make friends at church!