In a study of 40,000 mega-church attendees, people were asked by researchers Byrd and Thumma:
What drew you to the church?
- Worship style
- Senior pastor
- Reputation in the community
- Children’s programs
- Youth programs
Why do you stay at the church?
Answer: They have a friend or group with whom they connect.
The Reason People Leave
In our consulting work at The Center, we find that regardless of church size, a lack of relational connection is one of the top three reasons someone has left the church!
Byrd and Thumma note, “This is why larger churches put a lot of effort into establishing multiple pathways for helping newcomers move from spectator to participant, from outsider to insider, from perspective of ‘that church’ to ‘my church.’” Large churches can accomplish this by being very purposeful in helping people develop relational connections in small groups, teams, classes and other highly relational settings.
How to Help Them Stay
Churches should focus not only on how to be an attractive church but also on how to help people feel a sense of belonging. This is not an easy task at a time when people have a desire for more but have time for less.
Experimentation will help you to innovate and take risks as you strive to grow in both purposeful attraction and relational connection!
Jay Desko is the Executive Director of The Center and serves on the Senior Leadership Team at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Jay brings experience in the areas of ministry assessment, leadership coaching, decision-making, and strategic questioning. Jay’s degrees include a B.S. in Bible, a M.Ed in Instructional Systems Design and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Leadership.