Growth is one of the main keys to retention. While retention helps to sustain growth, you'll actually find that as you grow the people that God sends you, you'll see them not only getting connected but reaching and bringing more people to Jesus.
When we grow people, we grow the church.
I've loved seeing the trend in the last decade in church conferences on better connecting with people that are coming to our churches and providing a pathway to get them connected and a part of a team; But, that in itself shouldn't be our focus. Our calling is to disciple and grow people, not to just hold onto them for the sake of our attendance stats.
If we make retaining people our primary focus, we've taken the first step to losing them.
The efforts pay off big time when we start designing our systems around growing people rather than simply keeping them. Where are you taking the people that God has given you? If you're just "retaining" them, you risk becoming like the servant who buried his talent in the ground for fear of losing it. The mandate is to discipleship and multiplication. So the call is more about forward advancement and expansion, not just holding on to what you have until the end.
The mandate to increase and multiply happens through discipleship. Create a culture where community is a norm as the bedrock for discipleship. (See also my article on 3 Essentials To Creating A Discipleship Culture In Your Church) From there, you'll want to have a strategy for helping teach new believers how to know and Follow Jesus. This happens in weekend and midweek services, but we can't always drill into the basics as far on a weekend as we'd like, which is why small group or class settings are key. Many churches are using my Following Jesus books as a gift for new believers and the curriculum for the small group or class study.
I'd encourage you to gather with your team and evaluate all of your discipleship and retention strategies with the goal of growing people not just retaining people. If we can help in any way with you and your team as you strengthen your discipleship strategies let us know. We also have an e-course that focuses just on Discipleship and Assimilation.
I'd love to hear your comments below on ways that you are growing and discipling people. What's worked for you guys and what hasn't?
Praying for you and your team as you lean into this topic of discipleship!
Article adapted from original post on sameuldeuth.com