Attraction Factors for your Church Visitors is an article about what factors bring people to your church to stay and be part of things. I will look at positive and negative attraction factors. Please also read this post, Why people stay in your church.
Let me begin by saying people in generous are curious, and they will stick their nose into a lot of things that they shouldn’t. Beyond that, they actually get superficially involved in a lot of stuff only to drop out very quickly. A person may see a restaurant that they would not normally go into, but a sign outside says “Rhubarb pie.” Okay. Maybe I will go in and get that one time. I have never had it. So their curiosity leads them. This happens with visiting churches.
So I call this the circus factor. If your church is like a circus constantly putting on new programs, new curio-us things, always something to “draw interest”, you will get visitors. But so often these people drop out after a while. These additions are not true and long lasting. The few times that they do hang around, the church has promised some new stupid thing every week, so if the church cannot come up with new programs and new novelties that they haven’t used before, then these “faithful” people will get disinterested and leave. Moreover, if some competing church has bigger, better, and even more curious presentations, then they will quickly leave your church for the other.
The circus factor is a negative attraction factor. It is not why we should be going to church according to the Bible. Not even to witness miracles nor healings, not receiving food hand outs. Jesus rebuked the crowds because they followed him because he gave food to them when they were long in the day preaching.
In the article I mentioned above, I stated that good preaching and a good fellowship community are two aspects of why people come and stay in a church. Here I want to mention more elements.
Sound biblical Preaching, Doctrine, and Practice
I visited a church in Florida one time, and they had built their own building. Nice place for about 100 people. But what I didn’t understand was while they built their own building, they didn’t have a baptistry. I studied their church website when I got home and nothing about baptism at all, although they had their doctrinal statement etc. The pastor studied under some other preacher, and studying him, I see that they were “thoroughly New Testament” which according to this preacher, baptism is not to be practiced in the NT church. Needless to say, I never returned to that church. I didn’t want to have anything to do with them.
Orthodox Christianity bases its doctrine, practical, objectives, methods, etc. on Scripture. Scripture is not a toss up as to who can interpret it. It is obvious for everybody that understands language, because it states its doctrine, it gives examples of its practices. Even Christ got baptized in water. How can you disconnect that example from what we are to do? Throughout the Acts of the Apostles and the epistles new believers were baptized in water.
What is the glue that draws people to your church and makes them stay? Doctrine.
When you have a hard time pinning down what doctrines a church believes, that is a problem. And people come and then go because they are surprised by the lack of doctrine set by the church, practiced by the church, etc.
Doctrine defines moral conduct. Fuzzy doctrines produce doubtful if it is biblical or right conduct.
Some pastors and church leadership view the church of Christ as a cow. They are there to milk it only. Yes they make sure it has its own food (entertainment) but they don’t care much beyond getting money from that cow.
Yes, there are churches which have bad doctrine and have people. There are also a lot of churches that have people and basically have universal doctrines or no doctrines in other words. While these are not technically churches but religious clubs, but they have some very acute problems of their own when it comes to their membership.
These bad churches give something back to their people, and they take a lot. But the something they are giving is not what the Bible indicates that it should be. We are part of something, the body of Christ. That life that flows in us, that makes us spiritually alive, and that we share and multiply one to another is not in a bad church. Only imitations of other similar things are there. Christ is not in them.
A Clear Vision of their own Purpose of Existing and Work to Do. Goals.
One of the things that is absolutely essential for a church get people and keep them is that the church itself in its leadership has a clearly definite set of goals and objectives. These are the tasks that God gives local churches to do until Christ returns. These goals include evangelism, edifying the believers, worship, prayer, nourishing the Christians to be spiritual, occupying themselves in spiritual pursuits, and in allowing the Holy Spirit to ministry and work in themselves and others by their yielding to the Holy Spirit.
The purpose of a church is not to get more people and take the offering. Growth and receiving offerings are valid things, but they are a small part of the overall goals and tasks we are to do as the body of Christ. People usually are quick to leave a church if they consider the leadership doesn’t know what it is doing, is too worried about getting money to live in luxury, and in personal problems that they cannot seem to fix. It is like going to a doctor that is overweight, diabetic, has heart problems, and cannot solve any of that. Why are you sitting under a man who cannot fix his own life much less yours?
As part of the goals and tasks, every Christian should be witnessing his faith to others, inviting them to Christ. Many churches never get this most basic thing. If they cannot do that, they are failures and you don’t want to be associated with them.
Let’s go back to the church as a cow, or herd of cows or sheep. Yes, the Bible represents the church as sheep. So what exactly do sheep do? Grow wool and reproduce. Many pastors have the reaping of the sheep’s wool down pat (getting money from them). A minister is supposed to live from what he does. So that is not wrong, but it can be wrong if the pastor or leadership abuses the fold in what they do economically.
But the second point is that they should reproduce themselves. This is natural and inborn. We do not need to teach sheep (animals) how to reproduce. They both know and they have an internal drive to reproduce. Why do Christians not have this same inborn drive and knowledge? First because they are not truly saved. They are members of the community but are not saved. Good churches constantly bombard their members in sermons with the gospel. The gospel seen from dozens of different angles. Secondly, good churches make the plan of salvation simple and direct. While it is not so simple as repeating a phrase, it is simple enough that the church members can explain it to their family and friends.
So a church that focuses a lot of energy on evangelism is a church that undoubtedly will find it easy to retain its membership. What is more, studies have found that one of the strongest “pulling factors” to draw new people to a church is very simply, visitors become members when they have or make friends with somebody in a church. So your members are key to getting and keeping members. This is a social element of being friendly.
From an experience standpoint, this last point doesn’t work “out of the box.” Your membership needs to be loving, friendly, and receiving. If they are, or they are taught to be, or they try to be, then this works. They are a strong factor towards attracting new members and keeping new members. In a real sense, you are what you project that you are. When the leadership and the members try to be loving and receiving, being friends to those who have needs, they will find church growth happens automatically!
More Posts on Church
- Things that ruin a Church: Dominating, Controlling, Manipulating Dictator-Pastor
- Things that ruin a Church: People
- Things that ruin a Church: Events that Decay pt 2
- Things that ruin a Church: Events that Decay pt 1
- Things that ruin a Church: Qualities that Destroy
- Church Advertisement that Works
- Changing Membership in the Local Church
- Satan’s Useful Idiots
Pastor David Cox is a missionary. See my ministry updates here.