The Principles of Front & Back Doors in Your Church

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Front and Back Doors of your church

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The Principles of Front Back Doors in Churches Pastor Oyewole O. Sarumi

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Introduction The Question is: • Who is your church designed to reach • Is your church for everyone The Answer: • You are currently reaching a segment of the population—not the entire population. • I don’t know of a single church that has reached everybody. • The people you’re reaching probably represent a particular demographic.

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The faster you get away from the idea that your church is for everyone the more effective you will be as a church

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Your Church has a Style Feel Culture • Your church has a style feel and culture that attracts certain groups. • In Western culture people self-select based on what your organization has to offer • The way you do church a combination of your mission and vision but even more importantly your organizational culture and strategy has an inevitable filtering effect:

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• Your music is going to attract some people and bother others. • Your teaching style and content is going to connect better with some than others. • The people who already make up your church are more likely to attract others like themselves like attracts like.

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• Your location and even the architectural style of the building in which you gather whether that’s a school a theatre a gothic cathedral a contemporary suburban mega church an A-frame 50s landmark or a living room make some feel at home while pushing others away. • Your leadership style is compelling to some people and not so much for others.

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Introduction cont’d • Church research and experience has pinpointed some good reasons why churches are recording membership losses the backdoor and the alarming rate of membership decline in the last couple of years. • We hope that Holy Spirit will enlighten our understanding as we examine the issues of Front and Back doors in our churches today.

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Why Is Your Church Losing Members • The zig-zag nature of church attendance is becoming worrisome to many church leaders today. • There are 2 doors in every church: • The Front door • The Back door. • If the traffic in your backdoor is higher than the front door then your church is in a state of decline and doing nothing to stop the leakage/haemorrhage means that eventual death is unavoidable.

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Opening The Front Door

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What Is The Front Door • Your Front Door signifies the passage of people into your church. • Your front door is the access that people have into the life of your ministry. • It means that people are aware of your church and they come around to see what goes on in your church.

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The FrontDoor of your Church • What constitute the FrontDoor of your church: • Strategic Evangelism Outreaches • Your Facility – toilets children classes sign posts well trimmed lawns easy convenient parking lot etc. • Pleasant Welcomers/Greeters • Atmosphere of acceptance • Well printed attractive rich bulletins/Materials • Participation and involvement in your community • Great Inviting Church websites • Interactive Social media activities • Vibrant youth movement • Use of language they understand • Convey truth and grace

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What Does Your Front Door Say About Your Church • You see facilities have a voice. They communicate loudly and strongly. Need some help with your front door experience Simply follow these two steps: • 1. Identify the items your church is insanely passionate about. • 2. Align your front door experience to showcase them. • Identify and align. Don’t make it complicated. Showcase core values and you’ll compel people to action. Through action you’ll witness life change. https://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/

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Still on the FrontDoor • If you don’t handle these frontdoor areas strategically and intentionally no one will visit your church and those who mistakenly do will not return • Remember that people visit churches for different reasons. • The adequacy of the Frontdoor helps attract new members while your assimilation strategies make them stay

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Why People Don’t Come To Church •Some questions should be asked: •Why people not coming to our church OR put another way: Why is your church not attracting new people

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• Are you wondering why your church isn’t growing or why it’s not growing faster. You’re not alone. The vast majority of churches are plateaued or declining because they can’t effectively reach new people. • According to Nieuwhof 2015 find below a list of things that might be holding your church back from reaching new people. • Once you see it you can deal with it. Otherwise you’ll be the leader who’s the last to see what everyone else sees.

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• 1. You’re not Authentic: Too many Christians have a gap between what they believe and who they are. The word authentic means: “not false but real… therefore reliable and trustworthy”. Closing the authenticity gap is simple: be more honest in your public talk and live with greater integrity in your private walk.

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• 2. You’ve Lost Your Passion: Too many church leaders are more passionate about tradition than about the mission. They aren’t even passionate about anything. In declining churches sometimes it’s hard to find a pulse of any kind.

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• 3. You’re In Conflict: If you’re constantly bickering and arguing why would any new people stay It’s not that Christians shouldn’t have conflict but we should be the best in the world at handling it. Growing churches handle conflict biblically humbly and healthily.

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• 4. You’re More In Love With The Past Than You Are With The Future: This can be true of churches that are in love with tradition and churches that are have had some amazing days in the past. If you want to grow be more in love with the future than you are with the past.

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• 5. You’re Not That Awesome To Be Around: Fake. Judgmental. Hypocritical. Angry. Narrow. Unthinking. Unkind. Those are adjectives often used to describe Christians. Let Christ reshape your character or social skills so that people would like to be around you.

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• 6. You’re Focused On Yourself: Too many churches are focused on their wants preferences and perceived needs. They are self-focused organizations and self-focused people. It should be no surprise that outsiders never feel welcomed valued or included. A life devoted to self ultimately leaves you alone.

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• 7. You Think Culture Is The Enemy: If all you ever are is angry at the culture around us how are you going to reach people in that culture If you treat your unchurched neighbour like an enemy why would he ever want to be your friend

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• 8. You’re Afraid To Risk What Is For The Sake Of What Might Be: If you’ve had any modicum of success recently you’re going to be hesitant to risk what is for what could be. The greatest enemy of your future success is your current success. When you’re perpetually afraid to risk what is for the sake of what might be you might as well cue the funeral music now.

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• 9. You Can’t Make A Decision: Governance will become a major issue for future churches. When your decision making is rooted in complex bureaucracy or congregational approval for every major change it makes decision making difficult and courageous change almost impossible.

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• 10. You Talk More Than You Act: Most church leaders love to think and love to debate issues. Effective leaders add one more component. They act. Most church leaders overthink and underact.

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• 11. You Don’t Think There’s Anything Wrong With Your Church: Many leaders and church members love their church but can’t figure out why anyone else does not. Those churches are on their way to having not much more than congregants of already convinced.

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• 12. You’re More Focused On Growth Than You Are On God: Some leaders get so engrossed with growth that they forget it’s about God and His mission. This is a danger every motivated leader needs to keep in mind. We’re leading people to Jesus not to ourselves or our awesome church. Keeping the focus on Christ ensures genuine life-change happens and lasts.

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• 1. They don’t know that we exist • 2. They have a wrong perception about Jesus • 3. They have a wrong perception about our Church • 4. They have been discouraged due to past negative experiences with “church” people • 5. Our church does not have a vision to bring them in • 6. Our church culture discourages guests from visiting our church • 7. There is uncertainty about what to experience when they come Summary: Why People Don’t Come To Church

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Importance Of Opening The Front Door Of Your Church • 1. It gives you the avenue to come in contact with people for whom our Lord Jesus died to save. • 2. It is the only avenue for numerical increase: the more the people that come the more your chances of assimilating them to your church life. • 3. It gives your church the manpower necessary for impact – locally and globally. • 4. It guarantees sustainability of your ministry efforts. That is you will have more people who can carry on with and spread your message and legacies. • 5. It helps your church to fulfill the Commission Mandate to make disciples of all Nation

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How To Open The Front Door Of Your Church • 1. Invitations: Invite them to come.

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• 2. Testimonies: Share testimonies of what God is doing amidst the members of your church.

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• 3. Needs-Focused Programs: Do programs that focus on areas where people feel a high sense of need e.g. marriage and relationships financial empowerment etc.

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• 4. Opportunities: Make your church an atmosphere of friendliness and opportunities. People go to where they feel they can be better in areas of felt need.

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• 5. Deliberate Relationships: Encourage your members to build deliberate relationships with unbelievers and un- churched people especially your matured members.

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• 6. Respected Personalities: Bring in important personalities to speak at your church. Note: These may not necessarily be pastors.

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• 7. Junior Church: Develop a robust Children and Youth ministry.

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• 8. Music: Let your music appeal to the people you desire to visit your church. When the news of how good your music is goes it more people will come to experience it.

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• 9. Ambience: Your church structure amenities decorations and so on determine a great deal whether people will desire to check in or not. Physical surroundings convey strong messages.

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• 10. Acceptance: Create a culture of acceptance in your church. Teach your members to make guests comfortable especially those that would be termed as outcasts. Jesus was not selective in the people that could approach Him.

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• 11. Digital and Social Media: Create a strong digital television radio magazine and social media presence for your ministry. If people like what they experience on the digital and social media they may want to come around to have a firsthand experience.

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• 12. Community Projects: Let the impact of your church be felt in the community where you are situated. If they know that you care they will care to let you know that you exist.

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Keeping the FrontDoor Open… • It is your responsibility to keep it open by being relevant in serving the people you are sent to and in servicing their needs. • The more you do this the more impact your ministry makes and the more souls are being won into the kingdom.

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Closing the Back Door

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The Backdoor • Getting people in the front door of your church is not the end rather it is just the beginning. • A study conducted a few years ago by David D. Durey of Mission Portland in the United States of America USA showed that in the average congregation only 12 percent of first-time visitors returned the following Sunday or eventually became members.

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Stages Of Church Leavers • First Doubts. • The people at this level are beginning to dislike some activities of the church or group. They usually become critical of the service style and begin to gradually move towards the exit. The sometimes find the sermon irrelevant and are no longer energized by the church leadership. You can quickly identify them by their low attendance of meetings and services.

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• Seeking Alternatives. • Leavers at this stage are trying out other services and building support networks outside the church. The feeling is that they don’t belong to the church and are only seeking the slightest opportunity to get of the church.

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• Turning Point. • At this stage the leaver has already concluded he will be moving away from the church only in a matter of time. Often they give church leaders “good enough” excuses for not making the services and are only waiting for crystallize their choice.

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• Developing a new sense of identity. • This is the transition stage for the leaver. He has obviously relocated into a new environment where he seeks to belong. It can be very challenging winning people at this level back into the church. Though it is not impossible.

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A Revealing Research • In a recent church survey 92 of leavers said that no one from the church had talked to them about why they left. • The survey further revealed that over 45 of them would have returned if they had been followed up. • Can you beat that

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Some Questions that concerned Church leaders must ask: 1. Why is the church experiencing membership loss almost every year 2. How many souls/people have been lost through the backdoor 3. What are the reasons that makes them to leave 4. Which of our systems/strategies or approaches aren’t functioning well 5. Why is our stable or old members leaving us

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6. Why is the assimilation of new members difficult and losses frequent 7. Where are those leaving going to and what’s the attraction 8. When are we going to act and stop this people haemorrhage before it kills the church 9. Who are those leaving Old New active or inactive

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When To Panic And When NOT To Panic When People Leave Your Church • Most leaders fear losing people • “Paradoxically one of the best ways to grow your ministry is to let the right people leave.” • Sometimes losing people in your church or organization is a bad thing. Surprisingly other times it’s not. • Knowing the difference is critical to effective leadership. • Only sociopaths don’t care when people leave.

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• Whether you are a good leader or not people will leave you when their time is up – 99 to 1 • Never let the fear of losing a few override your desire to help many.

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1. When One Of Your Best People Walks Out The Door • It’s never a good thing when one of your best people walks out the doo • When they start leaving sound the alarm. If there’s ever a time to panic this it it. • The best people usually leave quietly. Toxic people never do.

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2. When There’s A Vision Shift • Vision shifts usually happen when a new leader comes in and changes the direction of the church. • It also happens when an existing leader pursues a new direction. • During a vision shift a variety of things can change—the music changes the programming changes the preaching changes or the whole DNA of the church shifts. • Ask yourself this clarifying question when you see someone leaving: “Is this the kind of person we can build the future of the church on”

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3. When Someone Who Doesn’t Care About The Mission Leaves • There are people in every church or organization who care more about themselves than they care about the mission. • Losing them is not a reason to panic. • People who are off mission will never help you realize THE mission. • Don’t focus more on who you want to keep than who you want to reach. You’ll die trying.

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4. When Someone In The Crowd Leaves • By ‘Crowd’ mean people who attend but never engage. • Every church has a ‘crowd’ — even small churches. • The 2 types of crowd in your church are: • those who are leaning in new to faith or new to your church • those who aren’t. old members who never get committed • When you start losing people from section 1 pay attention. For section 2 you will lose some there’s nothing you can do.

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5. When A Serial Church Shopper Leaves • Serial church shoppers are those who left 5 churches in the last 5 years they’re probably leaving your church soon. • That’s their stock in trade. Let them go evaluate someone else’s church. • They don’t need to take up energy at yours. • NOTE: There are some key differences between a unchurched person and serial church shopper.

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6. When You’ve Lost A Toxic Person • There are toxic people in this world and in your church. • An unhealthy person can infect your team like toxins infect the human body. After some exposure everyone feels sick. • OPTIMIST: Unhealthy people can grow healthier with the right care and attention in a healthy environment. • PESSITIMIST: Some toxic people just don’t change. Some remain difficult despite all attempts and can negatively influence others When they leave be grateful

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Leaders spiritualized Backdoor Traffic • Quite a number of church leaders have spiritualized the high traffic of the backdoor saying things like: • “Those who left are not part us” • Those who left are sons of perdition” • “No matter what happen people will still stay” • “If they go they are cursed” • “It is the trouble makers that are leaving” and • “Those who belong to me cannot go away”. • These are myths and legends that many have used to rationalize the challenge of back door syndrome. However it does hold water as those who leave are driven away due to various reasons like ineptitude rigidity and sundry mistakes of the church leaders.

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• According to surveys 87 of people say “I feel judged” at church and a whopping 91 of people say that “church people are a bunch of hypocrites.” With stats like that it’s no wonder most churches aren’t growing. Even worse churches are closing at an alarming rate of 10 per day. http://www.group.com/lifetree-cafesourceoutreach

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Three Kinds of People in Church • Leaders need to know the 3 kind of people that come to their church: • Those who come to help your vision • Those who come for training and • Those who are just passing by. • Do your best but focus on the first and second set they are more likely to stay with you. • Now find below some reasons backdoors why your church is recording low membership. If you do the opposite you will be empowered to retain them in your churches.

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Some Glaring Church Issues Today • Today mobile membership is a plague in African churches. • There’s a lot of movement from small churches to big churches. Why Healings prosperity connections etc • NOTE: majority of growth of churches are through transferred membership.

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• Sustainable growth remain a problem in most churches. • There are so many Christians now who have no place of worship on Sundays. • Lack of formal training on church growth as many pastors and leaders don’t have required information on several issues confronting the church.

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• There’s no church without a member as church exists for the people. • A church without members is a serious indictment on the pastor. • A church experiencing consistent membership losses speaks volume about the life and ministry of the pastor.

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Membership is not automatic • Membership is not automatic but a process. Stable members are those that are: • born again in the church • made the church their home of worship • identified with the vision of the church and • are contributing morally and financially to the well-being of the church.

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Stable Members made through Assimilation Process • Such stable members comes through an intentional movement of people: • from the awareness of the church • to regular attendance • to commitment and • finally contributing to the church. • Such Assimilation process take time planning effort and commitment.

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Periscoping the Back Door

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1 ABSENCE OF VISION PROVERBS 29:8 • Where there is no vision goal and purposeful direction in the church the serious minded ones tend to leave and find a church that has and vigorously pursue their God-given vision.

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2. NEEDS NOT BEING MET • People come to church because of needs and when the problem facing the people are not being addressed their suffering with sickness diseases poverty joblessness barrenness bad-luck and demonic oppression remain unsolved despite months and years of coming to the church they take off.

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3. LACK OF SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT • Here proper and balanced diet is missing. The messages are shallow uninspiring and above or below people. Though they might be physically okay but they are spiritually malnourished and underfed the serious ones who care for their spiritual life will surely drop out.

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4. NO ATTENTION AND LOVE SHOWN TO THEM 2 Sam 30:11-15 •If this is the case in our churches the people will not stay because everyone loves to be given attention and acceptance. If they are not cared for in their trying times they will surely drop out.

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5. CURSES AND CRISIS • In churches where there is crisis between the leaders choirs workers serious people will always go. • In churches where preaching often turn to curses doom and destruction those who value their spiritual well-being will stop attending.

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6. WEAK PASTOR • Only strong dynamic and extraordinary pastors can cause growth in a church. People love to follow and serve under such pastors. • But in a situation where the pastor is weak spineless and visionless people will drop out. People today don’t want to serve under the command of General Apathy

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7. WEAK PRAYER BASE • Growth will happen when the church has truly become the house of prayer. This is not selfish self-centered monotonous and routine prayers but dynamic earnest fervent and importunate prayers both in private and public. In churches where such prayers are absent people will leave in droves.

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8. PARTIALITY AND RACIAL/ETHNIC UNDERTONES • Many pronouncements in the church showing traces of partiality race or ethnic preferences will result in those of other races and tribes to depart from the church. • Many of the Pentecostal churches in Nigeria have ethnic colouration with the leadership in the vanguard of this.

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9. TIME MANAGEMENT • This is common feature in many fundamental churches. They believe they should not rush things and therefore are ready to close the service that started 9:00am. by 2:30pm Well while we do not believe in disobeying the Holy Spirit yet we want to say that time wastage has resulted in people leaving the church. Time is precious today. Time is money we must learn to close in time latest 12 noon when people are still asking for more.

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10. NO DELIBERATE EFFORT TO ASSIMILATE THEM • When there is no deliberate programme for membership assimilation such as welcoming second and third time visitors guest class sharing class feeling for gifts etc. They will drop out without anyone noticing from your church.

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11. ORGANIZATION INEPTITUDE ▪Many losses arise out of this important fact. This was the problem faced by the apostles in Acts 6. They could have solved it in any of these three ways:  ‘Shut up if you are spiritual you wont complain’  ‘Shut up if you are not satisfied you may leave the church’ and  Proper organization to meet the need

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▪They chose the latter option and retained the people. Looking at Apostles we discover these:  Acts 1 – God moved upon men.  Acts 2 – God gave them a ministry.  Acts 3 – God gave them multiplication.  Acts 4 – Turned into a movement.  Acts 5 – Murmuring arose.  Acts 6 – Solved by administration. ▪We discover these occurrence in churches of today also but they are not choosing the option of the apostles and losses result.

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12. CAREFREE NONCHALANT ATTITUDE • Some church leaders just doesn’t care. They are not concerned about the decline growth and wellbeing of their church. They justify and exercise the declining nature of the church. Such attitude have done havoc to the health churches.

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13. MISTAKES FROM LEADERS • This is one major reason why many are leaving the church. The leaders who are held in reverence awe and honour descend low to do evil and unimaginable things. • Many see the pastors and leaders as angels and therefore are flabbergasted when they hear and see much carnalities sin evil and corruption in supposed high and holy places

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14. THEY ARE INACTIVE AND UNINVOLVED • When members are just kept there as numbers untrained inactive and uninvolved in the programmes of the church it will be easy to drop out and go where they will be utilised and engaged.

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15. FEELING OF NEGLECT AND AIR OF HOSTILITY • When members sense that their presence is no more welcome and meanings are being read into whatever they do the easiest thing to do is to drop out and find peace of mind somewhere else.

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16. INABILITY TO ENDURE THE TRUTH • When people are not ready or willing to abide by truth of God’s word they will surely leave. • Those who have itching ears not to hear the truth they feel ‘persecuted’ and change church. NOTE: Don’t change your message of truth for the truth purges and sanctifies.

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17. SPIRIT OF ABSALOM • When rebellious spirit and pride enters the people there would be serious bickering that would lead to dwindling membership. • This is like the company of Korah company in Num.16:1-3

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18. THE PASTOR’S WIFE AND KIDS • The pastor’s wife and kids are very important to the church. They can make or mar the progress of the church. • The wife could drive people away through demonic influence bad character backbiting and ungodly manners. The kids through bad examples and rough living can contribute to membership losses.

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19. NO MISSIONARY OUTREACH • When there is no fresh and new challenge to evangelize and reach out to other places the people tend to be idle inward looking monotonous and tired. They will surely leave for where there are challenges. When the church is only seating oriented and not sending oriented it will decline.

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20. REVIVAL FIRE HAS DIED OUT • This is true of many traditional fundamental evangelical and Pentecostal churches. The life and vibrancy they once knew is gone and everything is now cold and lukewarm. • Past glory and dealing of God are remembered with nostalgia then the church or denomination will surely and steadily lose members to vibrant and lively new churches.

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21. CONSTANT TRANSFER • When pastors/leaders are being constantly transfer from churches it usually lead to membership losses and decline. • Short term pastorates of 2 to 3 years have done much havoc to the health and well- being of the church where this occur regularly.

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Summary: Reasons Why People Leave Church • We can summarized the above into: • 1. Relational Problems • 2. Emotional Disconnection • 3. Cultural Differences • 4. Lifestyle Mismatch • 5. Theological Imbalances • 6. Spiritual Growth Levels • 7. Unmet Expectations • 8. High Cost of Commitment • 9. Leadership Deficiencies

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CONCLUSION • The church is all about people. The people are more important than the building tradition programme and methods. • Everything must be done to win woo and retain the people for the Lord. Losing members is one sure sign of church sickness.

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• One major problem of the church is the inability to retain members for considerable number of years. • Mobile membership is a plague of many churches – as new ones enters old ones are going out.

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• If churches will labour to implement the OPPOSITES of the above points they will be able to: • Attract • Retain and • Transform people to become disciples in our churches.

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• Church health requires that we take note of these points and change where necessary. • When the church is healthy it will naturally grow. 1 Cor. 3:6 Col. 2:19.

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Your church should be open to everyone but you will be best at reaching a particularsomeone.

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Churches that try to be all things to all people often end up being nothing to no one and lose their effectiveness in the process.

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