The answer to this question took some inquiry and investigation. Something I found out that the Churches were not doing.
When people leave, or the church can not find enough people to do all that needs doing or is unable to fill leadership positions, it sends the message of: We do not like what is or is not happening. We do not want to be apart of a sinking ship. When we see the leadership shrinking and programs removed, why would anyone want to be a part of this?
Poor or non-existent Leadership / Management
This was a hot topic and the number one reason. It seems that the people questioned first did not know who the leaders were, second what their duties were, and third they were never informed about current decisions and how or why such decisions were made.
When the people in the pews asked for communication about what and how the church was doing, there were no answers. They were asked if they trusted the leaders? This is not an answer.
The people heard about a plan, were given some information about the plan and that was the last they heard about it. There were no metrics, information, or evaluations about how the plan was working.
Because the people were not involved or asked what they would like to see done or be a part of the process, they could not buy into or be part of what little action was going on.
Sometimes there are none. I heard, “I never know what I should be or could be doing.” With no available expectations there are no mile stones, no road map. Everything is just willy-nilly.
The church did have a Vision. We heard it once. We did have a Mission statement. We heard it once. We did have a Strategy. We never heard or knew how we were doing or who was doing what. Our opinions were not listened to, so we gave up suggesting. Sometimes the vision and mission statements are included on documents, but not really used to guide decisions. Sometimes the vision and mission statements do not really say or mean anything and cannot be internalized.
Because we were never invited into the decision making, planning, or listened to if given the opportunity, there was never a trust built among us. Trust is earned, and they never took the time or energy to earn it. Whatever they are doing, trust is not being built or supported.
The church never showed any loyalty to us. Our individual wishes, desires, dreams, were pushed to the side. Maybe there was nothing at church to receive the loyalty.
1. Any time someone leaves the church, have an exit interview. Show them the courtesy of caring. Pay attention to what they are saying and feeling.
2. Leaders need to communicate everything that is happening within the church with everyone through several kinds of media and learning styles and in both verbal and written statements. Communication is the key to success.
3. Build trust and loyalty by communicating the Vision (Picture), Mission (Purpose), Strategy (Plan). This must be done continually so each person feels a part of the process and has a feeling of belonging and being valued.
4. There must be an intentional building of personal relationships between the leadership and the congregation. Building relationships among the congregation will build the church. It is important for members to feel connected.
5. Try new suggestions! Listen to objections and all ideas. Try it! If they work great, if not try something else.
6.The leadership must be highly visible, available, and enthusiastic.
Visible as to who they are and what their responsibilities are.
Available to have conversations and share what is going on and to provide answers to questions and inquiries.
Enthusiastic means to smile and bring joy to the Vision and the Mission.