sticky church

People end up coming to church for a myriad of reasons. Motivations range from church was something that they grew up with and is a cultural norm in their life, to a moment of personal crisis, a simple invite by a friend, and sometimes even a cleaver marketing campaign by a local church. But what makes them come back, what makes them stick?

In his book, Sticky Church, Larry Osborne does a great job of addressing the leadership tension between the front door (getting people in) and the back door (keeping people in) of the church. In it he asserts that, “As long as the front door remains larger than the back door, any church will appear to be growing. But sooner or later the front door can’t get any larger; either the budget or the skill set runs thin.” He goes on to explain that many pastors are guilty of using the people they already have in order to reach the people they want to reach. Instead of viewing their church as a flock to care for, lead, and tend to they often become viewed as a tool to get to the pastor’s dream…and that’s a dream that needs to die. If this has ever been an issue that you’ve had to contend with, you know first hand that by the time the indicators of a problem with the back door begin to rear their ugly head more often than not the problem has become so large and so complex that it takes a serious time, resource, and people commitment, and often times the courage to make some very difficult and far reaching decisions to wrestle this down.

You might need to spend some time addressing the backdoor at your church if you can identify with the following list:

#1 It’s difficult to identify leaders

A leadership culture and a revolving door in an organization or in a church don’t coexist very well. Leaders may be initially intrigued by the flash of the excitement of a moment but will quickly depart for depth, substance, and sustained forward movement in an organization. Leaders also come slow cooked, not microwaved. If you don’t pay attention to your back door, you may never have to opportunity to develop that next generation of leaders.

#2 The majority of your guests come as a result of events, marketing, and branding

For those who may read into this post the wrong way please hear me. By no means am I adverse to strategically leveraging events, marketing, and proper brand management. But when those tools become more important than the people you are called to reach I can guarantee you will have a problem with your back door.

#3 There is a complex system in place for on-ramping to community and serving

When people come with people assimilation becomes easy because there is already an existing relationship in place. If what, “we all know,” is true, that staying power has much to do with involvement in serving and groups, then wouldn’t much of our time an energy be focused in on building a relationally rich environment and culture?

#4 The reputation of your church in the community has shifted

Many churches have developed the reputation of a vacation destination, it’s a great place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there. This is particularly true of the church that has a great weekend worship experience and it’s the place to go to for the next big Christian event, but not the kind of place you want to go if you are looking for shepherding and a group of people to do life with. More than that if it’s true that you have to keep people with what brought them, you may have just set yourself up for failure.

#5 You don’t feel like there is enough time to build disciples

People don’t become mature disciples of Jesus Christ in a moment or in a class. They may get some good content and information, but they don’t become disciples. Disciple making takes time, it takes living life up close and personal together. It takes applying the principles and truths of the Scriptures to our lives as the natural ebb and flow of life occurs. It takes a skillful mentor and timely coaching. None of which can occur if your church is a revolving door and the very culture is counter productive to intimate and long term relationships.

Do you have problems with a revolving door (back door) at your church? What has driven those issues, and what are you doing to solve them?

Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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