Saturday, November 13, 2010

Church growth: where is the hole in our bucket?

I'm crunching some numbers for my church as we approach the end of the calendar year.

We are pretty much stable in terms of numbers and I'm trying to work out what our "limiting factor" is. We're getting about 25 visitors in a year and about 2 new members. I'm trying to work out if we should be working to attract more visitors, or working to convert visitors into members. What kind of a percentage of your visitors can you expect to become members? I read somewhere 15%, which would mean we're doing kind of OK at that, and we should be working to attract more visitors. Or, can we expect to get 25 visitors a year and should be working to get say, 5 new members from that?


Blogger Glen Marshall said...

Forget members - let that take care of itself
Give some attention to attracting visitors - but don't get obsessed
Prioritise helping your people to share faith with their friends

7:09 pm  
Blogger Stephen Lingwood said...

I suppose there's another level in the process: how many visitors come back for a second or third or... time.

But yes, I think there's more conversations to be had about the evangelist-hood of all believers.

4:51 pm  
Blogger Andrew Bethune said...

Numbers can be depressing - so I'd agree with Glen about not getting obsessed.

When I think about it though, the 4churches I have been a member of (2Church of Scotland, 2 Unitarian) have all been in decline numerically.

I think church 3 in my list has turned the corner since I left there ( I hope there isn't a casusal connection!).

When I was at church 2, I got involved in a series of 'alternative' worship events that ran for about 4 years. There was no formal 'membership' of these events, but they attracted a loads of people (some of them cheesed off with normal church, and otehrs wanting a different way of doing things). Numbers built up to high levels (maybe 80-100) and stayed up there.

So I am wondering why this should be.

There may be a lot of factors - but what strikes me as common to both these examples is the variety of different activities being offered which engage with people's lives and spirituality. The activities were/are being actively advertised. In both cases, a sense of community was/is being encouraged.

I don't really know the Bolton situation. Do you have any idea of why your visitors chose to come to Bank Street Chapel? And what made some of them stay? What makes a 21st century person want to belong to a church, which after all, is a rather odd kind of organisation?

Have you thought about geography? I mean, you are a town centre church - but where do your members live? Are they nearby, or are they dotted all over Bolton?

12:54 pm  

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