Of course, the heart of the problem is not declining numbers but waning commitment. As I addressed in my book, I Am a Church Member, church membership is becoming less and less meaningful in many churches. As membership becomes less meaningful, commitment naturally wanes.
While I don’t want to suggest there is a magic bullet to this problem, I do want to offer some approaches to address it. These five have proven to be the most helpful in hundreds of churches:
- Raise the expectations of membership. You may be surprised how many church members don’t really think it’s that important to be an active part of the church. No one has ever told them differently.
- Require an entry class for membership. By doing so, the church makes a statement that membership is meaningful. The class should also be used to state the expectations of what a committed member looks like.
- Encourage ministry involvement. Many members become less frequent attendees because they have no ministry roles in the church. They do not feel like they are an integral part of the church.
- Offer more options for worship times. Our culture is now a 24/7 population. Some members have to work during the times of worship services. If possible, give them options. One businessman recently told me that he changed congregations to a church that offered a Saturday worship time because his job required him to catch a plane on Sunday morning.
- Monitor attendance of each member. This approach is often difficult, especially for worship attendance. That is why the traditional Sunday school approach of calling absentees was so effective. Perhaps churches can incorporate that approach in all groups. Members are less likely to be absent if they know someone misses them.
Books by Thom Rainer: