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Strategies for Ministering to Inactives

Inactives are people who hurt. They need more than a scolding to become active in church. They also need pastoral care.
—Doug Self

Dropouts, delinquents, do-nothings, lazy, backsliders, complainers, and excuse makers. These are words regular church attenders often use to describe inactives. In Ministry to Inactives (Augsburg, 1979), Gerhard Knutson documents these attitudes. He tells of one study that revealed that regular church attenders tend to use the following words to describe their feelings about inactives: frustrated, fearful, anxious, worried, hostile, suspicious, sympathetic, puzzled, and embarrassed.

In my experience, active members aren't hostile to inactives, but they are puzzled as to why they no longer attend. Especially after unsuccessfully reaching out to inactives, active members can become frustrated and, inadvertently, begin badmouthing them.

It's no wonder, then, that inactives, as revealed in the same study, describe active church people as hypocrites, do-gooders, nosy, ...

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