To eKidz Volunteers (Part 1),
Last January, I read an article in Outreach Magazine that has continued to challenge me. In the article, the writer posed 3 questions that every person asks within the first 6 months of coming to our church and 3 questions they ask in the following 6 months. Below you will find the first 3 questions along with a brief explanation. While reading these questions, ask yourself, when it comes to kids and families, how are we doing? How do you think people are answering these questions? What can you do differently to help get more positive answers from our guests?
1. “Can I make friends in this church?” This is a question of belonging. Other studies tell us that newcomers who stay make an average of seven new friends in the church during the first six months; those who drop out make less than two. While it’s true that the first impressions of being a “friendly church” have much to do with a first-time visitor returning, the question has now changed from “Are they friendly?” to “Can I make friends?” I’m impressed that the “friendship factor”—more than any other ingredient in the connections and retention mix—is key. To put it simply: Those who make friends, stay; those who don’t, don’t.
2. “Is there a place I can fit in?” This is a question of acceptance. Churches with a variety of affinity groups (common interests, age, gender, marital and family status, concerns, needs, dreams) have a much higher retention rate than churches without such “entry paths.” And the more characteristics group members share in common, the better the fit and stronger the glue that will keep them connected.
3. “Does this church really want me?” This is a question of personal value. After the initial words of welcome, are these newcomers actively invited to participate in the roles and ministries of the church? Is their opinion sought on policy and vision decisions? Unfortunately, churches have a tendency to go on with business as usual and ignore the creative ideas and new energy bubbling just under the surface in newcomers.
Frank Bealer, Family Pastor