The exit of the church often seems to be as wide open as its entrance. People come and go in wholesale lots. One church reported accessions of more than 1,000 new people in about eight years. The net increase for the period, however, was two people. What had happened?
Are we concerned simply because this kind of situation means a decrease in the size of our church and therefore less prestige and status as a “successful pastor”? Do we worry about its reflection on our professional competence, or rather about the kind of church our ministry has produced?
We are concerned about these people who disappear from the church because we know God has placed them under the care of the congregation. They are not like so many bank notes which we bankers guard until they transfer to central headquarters. Christ died for these persons and intends something far better for them than they now know.
Failure to Conserve Converts
I am bewildered by the fact that so many ministers who want to conserve the fruit of evangelistic efforts do not use those plans already tested by experience, or do not develop any systematic program of their own.
Some denominations have issued excellent graded courses for new members. There are also numerous plans for the sponsoring of newcomers by deacons and deaconesses, by special committees, by church school classes. Many churches that complain about losing members soon after extending the right hand of fellowship admit they have never tried any of these plans. We need to ask whether new people will fall automatically into the ways of a new church, or into a new fellowship. Do the cliques, the classes, the groups, and the committees of the church open promptly and wholeheartedly to these new members?
Too few ministers ...1
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