Behind every inactive member lies a story to be heard and a hurt to be healed.

Several years ago I was looking through slides I had used in an every-member canvass in my church. When I held some to the window, I was shocked. Pictured in the first three slides were three couples who had held key offices in the church my first year there. Now, four years later, those couples were totally inactive.

These people no longer attended worship, except maybe on Christmas or Easter, made no financial contribution, didn't participate in the life of the church, and had a negative attitude about the congregation.

How could people move in just four years from active involvement in a congregation to total inactivity? I wondered.

I thought of times I had visited inactive members and seen absolutely nothing happen. In fact, often they were more convinced to stay away after I made the call. I knew I needed to figure out how to keep current members active, and enable inactive ones to return.

Anxiety-Provoking Events

I went to work on these questions as I pursued a doctorate and have continued ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe to Christianity Today magazine. Subscribers have full digital access to CT Pastors articles.

Homepage Subscription Panel

Read These Next

Craig Groeschel: Facing Your Dark Side
Craig Groeschel: Facing Your Dark Side
Step out of the darkness.
From the Magazine
I Was a World Series Hero on the Brink of Suicide
I Was a World Series Hero on the Brink of Suicide
Drugs had derailed my baseball career and driven me to despair. A chance encounter with a retired pastor changed everything.
Editor's Pick
How Culture Shapes Sermons
How Culture Shapes Sermons
Recent books on culturally distinct preaching challenge misconceptions and equip diverse pastors to better address a multiethnic world.