It's common for church leaders to be concerned about the number of people who attend services, especially if they notice a decline. After all, the more people who show up, the more resources you are likely to bring in. You probably have an outreach team or some related ministry that is designed specifically to attract more visitors. How do you keep them coming back, though?

Active engagement is the key to helping people form long-term bonds and commitments to your church. Here are several ways you can encourage people to get more involved in the life of your faith community.

Communicate Your Vision

A surprising number of churchgoers don't have a clear vision of the reasons they join a particular congregation. Location or denomination may be a factor, or they may have simply been invited by a friend and decided to check it out. They end up staying by default without really engaging in the programs that enact the church's unique mission.

To get these members more involved, look for opportunities to make your organization's purpose clear. Make sure your values and mission are featured on your website and other written materials. Highlight a different ministry each week by having group leaders give short talks about what their group does and how it fits into the overall goals of the church. When leaders make decisions, they should always keep the purpose of the church in mind and be prepared to articulate how their choices fit into it.

Know Their Passions

You should always have an up-to-date fact sheet and feedback form that outlines your church's ministries and small groups. It's especially helpful for newcomers and can be instrumental in getting them involved right away. The document should include several elements:

  • Brief descriptions of each ministry or group
  • Meeting times and approximate weekly hours of commitment
  • Contact information for each group's leader
  • Feedback form to gather questions and new ideas

Many churches incorporate interest questionnaires in their literature and classes for new members, but once people have been coming to services for a while, they are seldom given the same opportunity for feedback. They may want to be involved but don't know where to start, or their interests may have changed. Sometimes churches lose members simply because they are no longer interested in the project or committee they signed up for but don't see a clear way out except to disengage completely. Extending frequent invitations to everyone to serve in ways that match their passions helps you hold on to your most committed members.

Set Clear Expectations

Many people are disengaged because they don't know how to get involved, but some may be hesitant to commit to volunteering. They see how much work other people are doing and assume they don't have that kind of time, or they have experienced burnout in other churches where their help seemed to go unnoticed and unappreciated. To encourage these members to engage, you need to create an environment that makes it both easy and rewarding.

One thing many churches do that is ultimately detrimental to their ministries is underestimate how much time their volunteer services actually take. On paper, it may look like one meeting a month and the occasional event. In practice, however, the time spent answering emails, collaborating with congregational or community partners, advertising programs, and doing other small tasks that arise can really add up. Give people a chance to talk to group leaders to see how much work is really expected before asking them to commit, and acknowledge all the work volunteers do for the church, not just the things that everyone sees.

As you incorporate these practices, you'll probably be pleased to discover how many people are eager to get more involved in the service opportunities at your church. Most people want to be helpful; they just need to know how to engage.

Category: Religion

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