This piece is based on the assumption that you go to church and are involved in ministry. If you attend services but are not personally involved in volunteering, statistics show you probably won’t stay very long. Casual observers aren’t long-term. It is in investing ourselves that we build relationships that keep us connected with a faith family.
The evidence presented is not based on empirical data or scientific research. It is quite possible that I am wrong. No specific individuals or families are the subject of this article. Any resemblance is simply a matter of coincidence. My observations are based on 19 years of full time Lead Pastor work, as well as a lifetime in a local church.
People who sit in one location for a long time (especially toward the front) and begin to move toward the back of the church are possibly, subconsciously, headed for the door. I’ve seen it dozens of times. 3rd row … 12th row … back door.
Through the years, I’ve witnessed many people who “need a break” from their serving, only to realize that many of them never recover. There are sometimes issues of burnout or lack of support and/or training, but some who quit working are in the process of quitting the church.
Financial investments are a revelation of what’s in one’s heart. When those who are regular contributors to a church change their giving habits, it reveals an adjustment elsewhere. Unless there is a job status change, the decision to reduce or stop giving indicates an emotional break. This is one reason why church leaders should track contributions – many times, areas of concern can be addressed before they become problematic.
It may seem like a no brainer but you can always tell when a person is leaving a church when they stop coming around. As basic as it sounds, I have had numerous conversations with people who stopped attending services but had not come to terms with their departure from the church. In my experience, when a person or family misses as many as six weeks in a row, it is difficult to return. Many times they don’t start out with the intention of leaving. Sometimes they just lose interest or get involved in other stuff. But the physical absence creates a disconnect, a sense of a lack of belonging. Upon their return, many people feel left out. For the record, when I know a family has been gone from church for 3 consecutive weeks, I begin to get concerned.
Disconnect with friends
Quitting a small group, avoiding relationships, losing contact with friends is a surefire way to detect the departure process. Once relationships are lost, the connection with the church is broken.
Let me be clear – sometimes it is good to leave a church. Situations and transitions and adjustments happen. But many times, leaving a church is unnecessary and is totally avoidable. Don’t let it sneak up on you.
I think I’ll work on a post about the proper way to leave a church. Seems that many people who depart aren’t quite sure of how to go about it.
Till next time…