Tag Archive - retention

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How to Help Guests Self-Identify at your Church

Churches are notorious for making guests feel awkward and out of place. I attended a church once that asked every guest to wear a rose sticker on their shirt and then remain seated during a time in the worship service when everyone else would stand up walk around and “greet” the new guests. Super awkward, but honestly mild. I could tell some really embarrassing stories how churches make guests feel uncomfortable.

The guest experience is an essential part of your church reaching new people. But building a great guest experience isn’t just about church growth and numbers, it’s ultimately about helping people feel like they belong at your church, so they can then begin to believe in the life-changing news about Jesus.

There are a few simple things your church can do to help guests self-identify.

Guest Parking:

Priority parking for guests and a great experience in the parking lot with a parking team and good clear signage is a great way to help guests self-identify.

New Kids/Family Check-in:

Having a new family check-in area for first time kids in the kids ministry is a great way to help new families self-identify.

New Ministry Engagement:

Simply pay attention to new ministry engagement each week. The first time someone gives, the first time someone jumps into a group, the first time they volunteer, or any other way they self-identify, check to see if it is their first point of engagement.

Mention Guests in your Weekend Services:

Make sure you address guests directly in your weekend worship services. Thank them from the stage for being your guests that weekend and tell them what step you want them to take. Some churches have a communication card they want guests to fill out and turn in, some direct guests to a particular place to receive a special welcome and meet the staff, and I’ve seen others invite guests to self-identify and on their behalf the church donates a financial gift to a ministry…i.e. “By simply being here this weekend you’re providing clean drinking water to kids in…let us know you’re here and make a difference in the life of a kid.”

So, here’s how the math behind it all works…

  • We know that the average church in America has around a 15% attrition rate annually. People move out of town, people get mad at something the pastor says and leave, and people die. There are all kinds of reasons attrition takes place.
  • We also know that the average church that has a great guest experience and weekend worship experience (including a strong kids ministry), retains about 1 in 5 guests, or 20%.
  • So, if a church that averages 500 people on the weekend is going to grow by 5%, or 25 people on average then they need to help 500 1st time guests self-identify. That’s a 1:1 ratio of guest to attender for the year.
  • Still not following? Say that church of 500 people is on average going to lose 15% of people to attrition, or in this case 75 people. If that church has a 1:1 first time guest to average attendance ratio for the year, that would mean that church would have 500 first time identifiable guests. If they retain 20% of their guests, or 1 in 5 first time guests (which would be 100 people), that church would grow by 5%, or 25 people in average weekly attendance.

Obviously, there are other ways to get things growing at your church. You could “close the back door” and cut the attrition rate, or you could strengthen the retention rate of new guests.

But none of that matters is you can’t help guest self-identify and get them in your assimilation pipeline.


Posted in Leadership

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Should your Church Spend more Energy Reaching or Keeping People?

It’s commonly said that you can tell if a church is insider-focused or outsider-focused by how they make decisions. Do they make decisions based on whom they’re trying to keep or whom they’re trying to reach? Oh, if it were only that simple.

Churches that Reach

  • Jesus started this movement called the Church with one simple mission, to reach outsiders.
  • Some churches become so focused on this mission that they’ll do anything short of sin to reach outsiders. Unfortunately this often involves ignoring insiders (people who have already said yes to Jesus)…which might be sin.
  • The challenge most outsider-focused churches have is helping people who say yes to following Jesus take their next steps with Him (discipleship).

Churches that Keep

  • It’s also clear through the teachings of Jesus that knowing and following God is relational by it’s very nature and can not be done well alone. This is why He said that His followers would be known by the quality of their relationships (love).
  • Some churches become so focused on the “one another’s” of Scripture that they don’t make room for outsiders. They frequently become so comfortable that they’re unwilling to change to reach people. That’s the exact opposite of the definition of maturity that so many insider-focused churches cling to.
  • The challenge most insider-focused churches have is helping people actually say yes to Jesus (evangelism).

I recently heard Dr. Kara Powell who serves as the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute say, “Balance is something we swing through on the way to the other extreme.”

Great church leaders don’t try to balance reaching people and keeping people. They’re willing to live in the tension that the call of the Church is to reach outsiders and impact insiders. They don’t see these as two opposing forces rather complimentary ideas that fuel the movement of the church. It’s not one or the other…it’s both and.


Posted in Spiritual Formation

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How to Keep your Best Staff Members from Leaving

One in two church staff members is open to new employment. At the Unstuck Group were shocked to learn this during our latest research on church staffing and structure. At the same time, our experience confirms that many church staff members are simply unsatisfied. If it’s true that half of staff members are willing to leave, how can you possibly build and retain an effective ministry team?

We’re excited to share that our research also uncovered two characteristics of churches that lead employees to be twice as committed. While these are certainly not quick-fixes, if leaders focus on creating health in a couple of ways, they can significantly raise the level of commitment on their team. Consider these 2 areas of health that keep employees engaged:

1. Church Health and Growth

Staff members who believe their church is healthy and growing are half as likely to be open to new employment. It makes sense that players on a winning team would be more committed. Many church leaders look to leave when they see their church plateau or decline with little response from senior leaders. If you’re looking to keep great players on your team, you must be willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish your vision. Stay focused on growing your church while developing health.

2. Staff Health and Effectiveness

Great staff members take notice of the people around them. Just 31% of staff members who believe the rest of their team is healthy and effective are open to new employment. That is a significant increase in commitment! Yet many church staffs include one or more individuals causing relational unrest. If you’re unwilling to deal with problem-people on your team, it shouldn’t be surprising when others start leaving it.

Other ways to develop staff health and effectiveness include developing leaders, clarifying wins, setting clear goals, and aligning the structure with the vision. Each of these and more are discussed in depth in our Next Level Teams report, which we’re offering to you at no cost. Click here to download your copy and start increasing staff commitment today.


Posted in Staffing