Why People Stay

Why people visit a church is different from the reason they might stay at that church.  Allow me to explain.  Folks decide to visit a church for a variety of reasons.  They are new in town and are looking for a church, they feel like they ought to go, they got mad at their old church, a life crisis, etc.  But the main reason that people visit a church is because of some form of invitation. Most people attend a church for the first time because they were invited.  This may be a flier or a postcard in the mail, but the most effective form of invitation is a personal invitation from a friend.  We’ve found this to be the #1 form of "advertising."  Word of mouth really is the most effective way to do it.

But the invitation alone doesn’t mean they will like the service.  No, that depends on their experience.  If they had a good time and connected with something emotionally, they will most likely enjoy the service.  It might be the atmosphere, the music, the teaching, the kids ministry, the topic,  or the length of the service.  So we work hard to create an environment that unchurched people will enjoy.  We try to eliminate the cringe factor and crank up the wow factor.  So, an invitation will get them there, but an experience will make them enjoy it.

But still…they may not stay.  Invitation and experience alone are not enough to cause a person to stay a part of a church (or an organization for that matter).  What will cause them to stay is a connection.  People must feel a connection to something to stay.  People that are connected with a ministry team or a small group will stay 9 times out of 10.  That’s why we encourage everyone to volunteer – they don’t have to be a member.  (They may not even be a Christian.)  But we know that if they get connected with a small group of people, either serving together or growing together, they will stick.  (And we’ve just raised the bar on the possibility that they will become a Christ follower).  A better measuring stick of buy in at Oak Leaf is how many people are connected in small groups or ministry teams.   Sunday morning attendance isn’t the most important attendance number.

So there it is:  invitation, experience and connection.  What does your church do well in these areas?  How can you invite more people, crank up the experience, or encourage more connections?


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