There is a secret inside many churches. According to researchers Scott Thumma and Warren Bird, most churches â€“ mega-sized and small, black and white â€“ are actually run by 20 percent of the congregation. The other 80 percent, they say, tend to act like spectators: they are minimally involved and attend infrequently or not at all.
A National Congregation Survey shows the Southern Baptist Convention had a membership of 16,160,088 people in 2008, but a yearly attendance rate of 38 percent. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America had a membership of 4,542,868 in 2009, but the yearly attendance rated rested at 28 percent.
Though many churches are struggling to boost attendance and participation, Thumma states, pastors and church leaders rarely address the issue.
“So many pastors that I’ve talked to recognize the problem, don’t know what to do about it and then instead of trying to tackle it, they kind of put it aside,” described Thumma.
Only 28 percent of pastors reported that spiritual growth was an important area of development in 2011 in the Barna poll. Even fewer pastors â€“19 percent â€“ reported that engagement was an important area for development.
Spiritual engagement, however, becomes more important the longer a congregant remains in the church, Thumma stresses. The top reason given for decreased participation in the last two years is faith has gotten weaker, according to a cited Parish Inventory Survey. Yet very few churches have programs for long-standing members, he says.
“Once you’ve been at the church for five years, 10 years, 20 years, 40 years, there’s hardly any programs aimed at those groups to continually keep them engaged,” laments Thumma.
The book recommends churches first correct this error by forming a listening team. The goal of the team is to conduct individual interviews with members to find out how they want and need to be nurtured spiritually.
When authors Thumma and Bird employed this approach to writeÂ The Other 80 Percent
, inactive congregants shared that issues such as no close friendship, and a lack of adult classes led to their decreased role in the church.
Second, churches are urged to create a learning team to uncover the external social and cultural dynamics in their communities hampering members’ church involvement. The team may learn that a Sunday morning sports league is keeping churchÂ youth
and their parents from service. The learning team can also discover new areas for ministry such as a food assistance program to reach a low-income community.
via Churches’ Dilemma: 80 Percent of Flock Is Inactive, Christian News
THOUGHTS? Â How’s this living out in YOUR church? Â Seem representative?