Tip 8. FOR People – All People (Shutting The Back Door in Your Church, Blog Series)

In this blog series, I’ve identified 9 tips to help keep people from leaving your church (i.e., shutting the back door). I believe all 9 are important. In this post, I’ll address tip number eight:

TIP 8. Be a church FOR people – all people.

Who is your church for?

Not theological. But practically, who is your church for?

I know what all us church leaders would say, but what if you asked people in your community? What if you asked the unchurched in your neighborhood or workplace? What if you asked the golfers teeing off on Sunday mornings?

When we get outside of our church bubble, we quickly discover the rest of the world sees the church differently. They see judgmental, homophobic, and hypocritical. They associate, for good reason, the gathering of Christians with their bad Christian experiences and an angry God.

Unfortunately, people are more familiar with what the church is AGAINST than what we are FOR. For good reason, too. Think of all the things Christians have boycotted: Disney, JC Penney, Lowes, Home Depot, UPS, PBS, Oreos, Muppets, Cheerios, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts. Cabbage Patch Dolls. Barbie. World Vision… The list goes on and on.

Now some of these boycotts might be warranted. Some might be even necessary. But from the outside looking in, the brand of Christianity is marked by the word “against.” That’s regrettable, because when we open the pages of Scripture, we see a God FOR people. A loving God who has been pursuing people their entire life. A God that is so for people that he allowed his Son to die for them. It makes me believe if God is for people, His church should be known in the same way.

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Tip 7. Avoiding the Golden Corral (Shutting The Back Door in Your Church, Blog Series)

In this blog series, I’ve identified 9 tips to help keep people from leaving your church (i.e., shutting the back door). I believe all 9 are important. In this post, I’ll address tip number seven:

TIP 7. Avoiding the Golden Corral (A.K.A.; Offer something for every segment).

Should a church cater to EVERYONE?

In short, yes, but maybe not individually. Now, this philosophy can easily get out of hand. This thinking is how many churches become the “Golden Corral” – a veritable buffet of ministries and programs; all subpar, all competing for limited resources, most with mediocre leadership, and all advertising a new fondue fountain in an attempt to convince you it will be delicious (ok, the last one might not happen, but I’ve seen it tried!).

So while churches should definitely avoid the buffet (like people should avoid Golden Corral), churches should consider segmentation programming. Here’s why offering programming for specific segments matters: If one family member hates a church, the family will eventually leave the church. And even if the family sticks it out, the children will bolt from the church (and many from their faith) at the first sign of daylight.

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Tip 6. Effective Discipleship (Shutting The Back Door in Your Church, Blog Series)

In this blog series, I’ve identified 9 tips to help keep people from leaving your church (i.e., shutting the back door). I believe all 9 are important. In this post, I’ll address tip number six:

TIP 6. Effective Discipleship.

What’s your discipleship strategy?

Hopefully you’re not stumped by the question. If so, you’ll definitely want to read on!

This question is one of a few that must be answered by every church. It’s one of the primary reasons we EXIST as a church. It goes back to that whole “go and make disciples” bit from Jesus!

Within the context of this blog series, we would say evangelism brings people into the church, but discipleship is what grows their faith. Beyond spiritual growth, however, discipleship plays a big part in keeping people at your church (i.e., shutting the back door).

Lack of effective discipleship is one of the primary reasons people church hop. We hear excuses like, “I’m not being fed,” which is often a cop-out, but behind that excuse is often a discipleship system issue.

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Tip 2. Allow Anonymity (Shutting The Back Door in Your Church, Blog Series)

In this blog series, I identified 9 tips to help keep people from leaving your church (i.e., shutting the back door). I believe all 9 are important. In this post, I’ll address tip number two:

TIP 2. Allow for anonymity.

Have you ever been forced to know or be known?

I once attended a church where every person I saw wanted to become my friend. To shake my hand, introduce themselves, and hear my life story. Seriously. I began walking with my head down as to not make eye contact with anyone in the hallway. But that was just the beginning. In service, we were forced to not just say “hello” to a neighbor, but to have a full on conversation with a FEW neighbors. Again, I looked down and away from my neighbors, which is hard to accomplish over 5 minutes time. Finally, we ended the service holding hands and singing a song. The GUY to my left tried to interlock fingers, which felt like level jumping in our lack-of-relationship.

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Tip 1. Relationships Matter (Shutting The Back Door in Your Church, Blog Series)

In the previous post, I identified 9 tips to help keep people from leaving your church (i.e., shutting the back door). I believe all 9 are important, but in this post, I want to address one of the more critical back door shutting mechanisms.

TIP 1 – Prioritize relationships.

Consider for a moment the power of relationships. How many churches have you seen (or attended) where people stay in spite of bad preaching and lack of leadership? Why do people stay? I’ll tell you – relationships. While an engaging, relevant environment might attract people, it’s ultimately a relationship that makes them stick.

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Shutting The Back Door in Your Church – Blog Series

What causes people to stick in or stay at your church?

Let me ask it another way: How do you shut the back door in your church? I talk to church leaders all the time who are trying to do just that. They believe their front door is open (which we should address at a later time), but they are losing as many people as they gain. In some cases, they are losing MORE than they are gaining. This is a huge problem for many reasons:

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How Can We Lead From Here to a Preferred There?

Maybe it’s just me, but few things frustrate me more than knowing what could be against what is; yet not making progress.

But I’m guessing that’s not just me – it’s probably every leader reading this post. Most leaders I know have some version of a preferred future in mind with a desire to lead people there over time. In some ways that’s why we are leaders! Leadership is about influence, and in most cases, influence towards something specific. A vision. A destination… A preferred future.

And again, for me, the more untapped the potential, the more frustrated I get when the progress is slow or nonexistent.

Here’s my current example: As a pastor in a large church, one of our greatest untapped potentials is in generosity. In conservative estimations, if every family who attends our church systematically gave ONLY 5% of their household income to the church (that’s half of what we would consider a tithe), our annual revenue stream would increase 400%. And that’s VERY conservative. It could increase 6, 7 or maybe 10 times! In my case, that is millions of dollars – with a capital “M.” And we would not need to spend more money inside our church – we would be in a position to do unprecedented good outside our church!  Continue reading…

Does The Holy Spirit Like To Plan?

As a church leader, that’s a question worth asking.

At Watermarke Church, our services are very planned and strategically structured. I can already hear the comments building – How can the Holy Spirit possibly participate in a church service that is so planned and organized? What if the Holy Spirit wants the service to continue past an hour? What if God wants to move in the service and change the flow or plan?

Those are great questions. And I can appreciate them all. Unfortunately, I have seen far too many churches allow “room for the Holy Spirit” to become synonymous with “we’re just lazy,” but that does not necessary need to be the case. As a Lead Pastor, I believe we can be both strategic and planned in our services while allowing “room” for the Holy Spirit.

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