Rich Birch: 7 Early Warning Signs That Your Church Has a Problem Retaining Visitors

How do you know if you aren’t attracting enough people to your church?

If your church has plateaued or is in decline, is the problem that you’re not attracting enough visitors or that you aren’t keeping those who are already attending? What signs will lead you to discover the problem?

The debate between front door problems and back door problems in church leadership has raged for years. Before we move ahead, let’s set some working definitions for what we mean by front door and back door:

The front door: Our ability to attract new visitors to our church.

Every growing church needs to attract a healthy flow of new visitors on a consistent basis.

The back door: Our systems, approaches and community that enable people to stay at churches long term.

Growing, healthy churches have consistent methods for helping first-time guests become active parts of the community; however, how does one diagnose the problem between the front door and the back door?

Over the years of talking to vast numbers of church leaders, I’m convinced that we all naturally consider growth problems at our churches as back door problems. We got into ministry because we wanted to care for others, and we are typically community-minded individuals. Therefore, we think that if we just get more people plugged in, our churches will grow.

Seven Early Warning Signs That Your Church Has a “Front Door” Problem

More often than not, I’ve found that churches are simply ignoring the front door problem and aren’t reaching out enough as a result. We become obsessed with keeping our current attendee base rather than reaching out to those in our communities. Here are seven early warning signs that might indicate that you have a front door problem at your church.

Low First-Time Guest Numbers

The key to understanding your front door is to be aware of how many new guests attend on a regular basis. You understand your new guests and can track how many there are by offering a compelling gift in exchange for contact information. Qualified guests are those that give you their contact information.

If in a given year you have fewer new guests than the average attendance of your church on a regular basis, then you simply aren’t attracting enough people through the front door.

For example, if your church averages 200 people per week, then on average you should be seeing at least four first-time visitors every weekend. You need to track this information for at least four to six months before you can get a sense of where you’re landing numbers wise. As you keep a close eye on this over time, you will start to see the patterns.

You Have Room on Big Days

Does your church still have empty seats during Christmas Eve? Last Easter were you forced to open up new services? If you have available room on big days, you are not tapping into the full potential of your church.

A church with a wide front door wrestles with adding new services—or maybe even new locations—on these big days as your church should be attracting enough people that it pushes all of the organizational buttons in your church.

Typically, I’ve seen churches achieve at least two times, if not three times, their normal Sunday morning attendance on these big days. If you aren’t striving for those numbers, then you may not be reaching enough people as a church.

Little Pastoral Messiness

The reality is that when people come in through the front door of your church, it causes problems for your pastoral team. When we’re attracting people, they come with all their problems. This isn’t to say that people outside the church have more problems than those inside the church—more often, it’s just that folks outside the church aren’t as good at hiding their problems as people that have been with us for a while.

If you can’t remember the last time you faced a complex pastoral care scenario, you may not be reaching enough people in your area.

When was the last time you used your pastoral gifts for an issue that you had never seen before?

Click here to read more.
Source: Church Leaders