5 Reasons Many Church Visitors Don't Return

5 Reasons Many Church Visitors Don’t Return

by Michael Boatman

I recently saw a study which showed that the millennial generation is desperately searching for a strong cause to get behind. A cause that’s bigger than themselves. A cause that they would be willing to even lay down their life for. But isn’t that what any of us—regardless of the generation we were born in—is searching for?

As a church, we have roughly 90-minutes to give visitors a compelling reason to return, consider getting plugged in and partner with us in making Jesus known. So here are 5 Reasons Your Church Visitors May Not Be Returning:

1.       Lukewarm Sermons. Pastors who live in fear that certain biblical sermon topics will leave their parishioners uncomfortable, offended, or compelled to request a meeting for doctrinal clarification are likely valuing their paycheck over their flock’s spiritual growth. Jesus wasn’t afraid of tough topics. Likewise, pastors shouldn’t be afraid of tough topics. Remember: Lukewarm sermons produce lukewarm believers. And we all know how God feels about us being lukewarm (see Revelation 3:16).

2.       Lifeless Praise & Worship. We’ve all seen it: Eyes glued to charts on a music stand. No sense of joy. No excellence. No presence of the (Holy) Spirit. When the worship leader and worship team are just going through the motions, rest assured, the congregation will just go through the motions. If you want a visitor to decide not to return to your church before the sermon has even been preached, make sure your church’s music is just going through the motions.

3.       A Careless Children’s Ministry. A strange odor. Toys that kids could easily choke on. Bad lighting (which could also be seen as a little creepy). I’ve even seen a church where there were only two men working in the children’s ministry. Not a good look. Even children as young as 20 months old know when they’re just an afterthought to the adult's ministry. Children’s ministries that suggest, “We’re just babysitting so that grown-ups can be ministered to in the sanctuary” can guarantee visitors won’t return.

4.       Unfriendly Members. Let me clarify this: the overwhelming majority of churches aren’t unfriendly. It's just that they’re only friendly with people whom they know, and not friendly toward those they don’t know. And as a visitor, there’s nothing more awkward and uncomfortable than watching conversation after conversation between obvious long-time friends near the front of the sanctuary, while you’re watching from the back, wondering if they’re even aware that you and the other "peasants" (including the lost) exist. Church members who only talk to those they know are subliminally communicating to visitors that they’re simply not welcome.

5.       No Apparent Concern For The Lost. Does your church feed the poor? Reach out to the homeless? Compel parishioners each and every week to give to the missionaries your church supports? If your answer to any of these questions is “No”, your church is what we call in church consulting circles, “Inwardly-Focused.” The trends of your weekly head count of parishioners should give you a good idea of your church's health (not taking a head count is a sign you may be in Denial). If your church is inwardly-focused, it’s in the process of dying, whether you want to believe it or not.

If your church is in decline, Contact ICWC today…

We LOVE to Help Churches!