Still in reverse order…
2. Ineffective Assimilation/Discipleship:
Even churches who don’t deal well with the above points manage to get a new member or two occasionally! Keeping these new members for the long haul is another matter.
Typically they are gone within a year, fewer still making it through a second year. Bill Tenny-Brittian worked with some large churches that have been stuck at the same attendance level for a decade, even thought they were receiving in new members almost weekly. One church had an average attendance of 500 for twelve years and when the data was examined they had received in over 800 members during that time – and also ‘lost’ 800 in the same time period. The problem was that members stayed for 6-12 months but never seemed to connect with the church.
Assimilation and discipleship don’t happen by themselves. Churches that grow have developed and successfully implemented a system for seeing first time guests make the transition from ‘pew’ to small group to friendship to ministry involvement. And they can also see a first time guest move from seeker to believer to disciple. Churches who haven’t sorted this out may receive in members but their attendance figures are flat-lined.