There Is Hope: Five Principles for Replacing Those Who Leave the Church


In my article last week, I shared our research on how many attendees a typical church has to replace every year. The sobering number was 32 attendees have to be replaced for every 100 in attendance.

It was indeed a sobering article for many church leaders and members. Some found it helpful. Some found it hopeless.

Count me in the former group. I see a lot of hope in the midst of challenging times.

God is not done with your church.

Since the article seemed to create a bit of angst, let me share some news of hope. The news comes from congregations connected to Church Answers. We are blown away. We are grateful.

These congregations tend to practice five principles every year. As a consequence, God is using their obedience to replace those who left the church, and to add even more. Here are the five principles.

1. The congregations have a practice in place that helps move the culture from inwardly focused to outwardly focused. In June of this year, Church Answers will introduce The Hope Initiative. It is a simple 30-day guide to get church members praying and reaching out to others. We have been blown away by the results of many of our beta churches (churches that allow us to test the process). Entire congregations have moved from nitpicking and/or divisiveness to sacrificial and encouraging. 

2. The churches make certain they have at least one outwardly focused emphasis a month. It does not have to be a major campaign. It could be something as simple as The Hope Initiative noted above, or a worship service once a month that focuses on praying for the community.

3. The churches have at least one major outward or evangelistic initiative a year. There are plenty of options to accomplish this task. Church Answers has two very effective tools called Pray and Go and Invite Your One.

4. The congregations have taken the time to get to know its community. At the very least, the church gets a demographic and psychographic report with this data. Church Answers has an incredible tool called Know Your Community.

5. The churches have a regular new members class. This class is one of the main tools to prevent church dropout. Those who come to the church through a membership class are more likely to stick with the church and become faithful attendees. The tool we have at Church Answers is called The Complete Membership Toolkit.

There is indeed hope. Churches that practice these five principles are much more likely to see growth rather than decline. There are many resources in many organizations you can use to facilitate this process. Here are the Church Answers tools I noted:

God is not done with your church.

Here’s to hope!

Posted on January 30, 2023

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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