Thom S. Rainer: 10 Things Pastors Should Know About Members Who Shop for Other Churches

The pastor announced to his peers, “It’s National Church Shopping Month!”

I love the community at our coaching and consulting site on Church Answers. Over 1,600 church leaders interact in significant numbers every hour of the waking day. They ask questions. They seek examples and stories of God’s work in churches. And, on occasion, they vent. I love the fact they feel the freedom to express themselves in a safe place.

Recently, one pastor lamented how many members start shopping for other churches in the summer months. His peers immediately joined the conversation with a number of similar concerns and observations.

For those in church leadership, this pattern of members deciding to leave is far too common and almost always painful. Here are a few observations from both the Church Answers’ community and me.

  1. You are not alone. In fact, I’ve never known a church leader who has been in a church three years or more and not faced this reality.
  2. It is not always bad. Sometimes members are simply not aligned with the ministry of the church they are leaving. It could be a doctrinal issue. It could be a philosophical issue. It is not always bad to release members to a church that better fits their convictions.
  3. It is an opportunity to learn and to be pastoral. I rarely hear from a pastor or other church leader who really enjoys interviewing or talking to departing members. But those who do share that the experience is typically one where they learn something they can do to improve themselves or to lead their church to improve.
  4. Some church shoppers have a me-centric view of church. They see church as a place to get perks and benefits. They have no concept of the giving and sacrificial nature of church membership noted in 1 Corinthians 12. They have a consumer mentality and, unless and until they change, they will not be satisfied.
  5. Some church shoppers have been hurt and/or been in conflict in the church. First, awareness of this pain provides church leadership an opportunity to be pastoral. Second, it is not always bad for these members to get a fresh start elsewhere. Sadly, it is common to see at least one party leave a church after a divorce.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Thom S. Rainer