Thom S. Rainer: Seven Ways U.S. Churches Deal With Inactive Members

Allow me a bit of clarity here. I am using the phrase, “inactive members,” to refer to those church members who have not shown up for any church service or event in several months. For now, I am not referring to those members who show up occasionally or sporadically.

What are the trends among the churches in North America? For certain, it’s a big issue. For example, the Southern Baptist Convention has over 15 million members, but only about 6 million show up for a weekly worship service. How are churches responding to the reality that many members on the church roll could not be found by the U.S. Census Bureau or the FBI? Here are seven trends:

  1. The majority of churches do nothing. Many names on church membership rolls moved out of town years ago. Some have residency in graveyards. Some church members think moving someone off the membership rolls is tantamount to removing their salvation.
  2. A small but growing minority of churches ask members to recommit to membership annually. With that commitment comes the expectation that the members will actually show up for worship services, among other expectations.
  3. Few churches are actually intentional about connecting with inactive members. Those that are attempting to connect with inactive members report, for the most part, anemic responses. They thus become discouraged to pursue the task.
  4. A number of churches have dropped “inactive member” as a category of membership. They rightly see the phrase, “inactive member,” as an oxymoron. They understand fully Paul’s teaching of the one word, “member,” in 1 Corinthians 12. A member is someone who is functioning for the greater good of the body.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Thom S. Rainer