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Can we learn something from people who leave our church?
Churches are healthier if their attrition rate can be reduced. Research indicates
that more than 60,000 people leave American churches each week and never go back. Lyle
Pointer, veteran pastor and church growth expert, suggests talking to those who leave a local
church to learn why they have left. Here are his suggestions and guidelines:
- I ask the Lord to help me keep the relational aspects in sight while I keep a lid on
defensiveness against criticism.
- I visit those who've left our church and tell them I need their help in improving our ministry
to others. Then, I ask questions such as:
- What brought you to the church initially?
- What was/is your over all impression of the church?
- I noticed your attendance at our church has dropped off (Or, I hear you may be worshiping
elsewhere). Can you help me know how you are feeling about your relationship with our church?
- How did you decide to leave our church? What was some of your thinking?
- What can I do to soften the hurt / disappointment / anger you feel?
- I tell them I regret we were unable to be what they needed us to be.
- I reassure them I will accept, and not argue with their perspective.
- I make sure they know I have heard them (although I may not agree with them).
- I thank them for telling me how they feel.
- If I think they could still be a part of our fellowship, I tell them they have not burned any
bridges with us/me. They are welcome any time.
- I pray a prayer of blessing on them.
- If they are not attending church anywhere, I will help them to select a church in the area that
has the best chance (in my opinion) of ministering to them. I stay in contact with this family
until they settle in somewhere or return.
I would guess that 20-25% have returned to our church when they felt concern being
expressed and understanding being offered. -- Lyle Pointer
Interviews: Revealing Stories of Why People Are Leaving Church -- a book by William
Hendricks [ buy book
SNU missions course materials and syllabi
Howard Culbertson, 5901 NW 81st, Oklahoma
City, OK 73132 | Phone: 405-740-4149 - Fax:
Updated: February 13, 2019
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Article by Howard Culbertson. For more
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