Last year I was a ‘mystery shopper’ in a church in our city. It felt quite daunting. A feeling which many church visitors feel.
Only one person knew me in the crowd of 500+ people and that was the pastor. However, he wasn’t even aware that I was in the church until well after the service.
I was a complete stranger to everyone else.
As I drove home I reflected on my experience.
I realised that the church didn’t have my contact details so they had zero impact on my decision about a second visit. I think this is the number one reason why people never return for a second visit.
I was in the driver’s seat.
While that was great for me it’s terrible for any leader wanting to grow a healthy church.
I want your visitors returning for a second, third and fourth visits so I’ve compiled this list of 11 reasons why people don’t come back. This will help you get more return visitors.
11 reasons why church visitors don’t return.
Ignore these reasons at your peril.
What you measure matters.
Unfortunately, your church could be measuring the wrong things and missing the opportunity to grow.
You can improve the health of your church by simply measuring the right things.
I have conducted 100 on-site consults with churches across 4 different nations in the last 5 years and I am consistently surprised by what I find in churches.
One of my surprises has been what churches measure and more importantly what churches don’t measure.
I’ve found 5 vital metrics that unhealthy churches rarely measure.
Smart churches utilise these 5 key metrics to improve the health of their church yet avoid being driven by them.
Once you begin to measure these elements you can also begin to manage them and thus improve the health of your church
1. Baptisms as a ratio of attendance
Baptisms are a concrete number that helps ascertain the health of a church.
How many baptisms is considered healthy?
Church consultant Tony Morgan considers that a healthy range is 7% – 9% of your church’s average Sunday attendance.
For instance, if your average attendance is 200 then 14 – 18 people being baptised is an indicator of health.
If you have a healthy number of people being baptised, then it indicates that evangelism and discipleship is happening in that church.
In one consult with a small church I discovered that no one had been baptised in the previous year. When I asked their leadership team to list the potential candidates they tallied up over 15 people.
What was going wrong? They had lost focus on making disciples and neglected to baptise anyone.
Healthy churches measure baptisms at least 3 times a year because baptism is a key indicator in the discipleship journey and must be considered a primary number in assessing the health of a church.
The Barna Group’s 2016 research of American churches found that almost half (46%) attend a church of 100 or fewer members.
More than one-third (37%) attend a midsize church of over 100, but not larger than 499.
One in 11 (9%) attends a church with between 500 and 999 attenders, and slightly fewer (8%) attend a very large church of 1,000 or more attendees.
Why do so many people like going to smaller churches?
I think small churches hold some genuine advantages over large churches but also a few key hindrances.
7 Advantages of Smaller Churches
1. Family Feel
Small churches capture a family better than any other size of church.
Larger churches must create elaborate small group structures to recreate the family feel that the lost when they moved from being small to a medium size church.
In fact, medium size churches spend a quite a bit of time mourning the loss of the family feel when they grow.
Small churches don’t have to create this family feel through systems or mourn its loss.
Smart pastors amplify this family feel.
They leverage it and use it as an opportunity to minister to those members who come from a dysfunctional family background.
I wonder if your frustration about your church being stuck has caused you to ask these questions.
We have good preaching and great worship, why isn’t our church growing?
Why do people leave our church?
Why is it so hard to get people to serve?
How on earth do we reach our community with the gospel?
Other churches seem to be booming, what’s wrong with my church?
Do other churches get stuck like we do?
During the last 35 years of pastoring, mentoring and consulting I’ve heard these questions countless numbers of times.
Church leaders are looking for solutions to a myriad of challenges that they are facing.
And often they just feel stuck.
In the last 5 years, I’ve conducted nearly 100 consults in churches ranging from 75 members to over 1000 across a wide range of movements.
And what’s interesting is that our solutions work in a vast range of contexts.
I created the Hub to help leaders who were stuck and to assist them in their cause of following Christ.