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Church Engagement Model - Part 4: Best RETAIN Strategies

Welcome back to Part 4 of this six-part blog series on the Church Engagement model! Let’s recap our first three blogs before we begin! In the Church Engagement Model Part 1, we discussed the importance of meaningful and valuable member engagement to move members from Consumers (What’s in it for me?) to Contributors (How can I serve to multiply the Kingdom?). We introduced the Church Engagement Model and the five jobs every church does. We also pointed out how having an intentional measurable plan in place proves to be more successful. In Part 2 Church Engagement Model—Best Attract Strategies, we explored the first job of the Church Engagement Mode, ATTRACT, and then we identified two key initiatives for ATTRACT: Positive Brand Awareness and SEO Metrics measured for current members. In Part 3 - Best Get Strategies, we discussed the importance of obtaining crucial data from those people interested in learning more about you. You only move a person from ATTRACT to GET once you’ve actually gotten their name and contact information, and you can only gather that precious data if you show the person it is in their best interest to stay connected!

In this blog, we are outlining the strategies for moving a person from GET to RETAIN. The motivation for RETAIN is “I want to stay…” A church succeeds at RETAIN when they convert first-time interactions into recurring interactions. A good rule of thumb is “three times to retain.” In other words, a person will likely become a regular participant if you can get them to have more than three interactions. So for example, a person is very likely to become a recurring giver if they give more than three times.

Retain: Motivation: I want to stay…

The way churches act strategically and intentionally on RETAIN is by creating effective follow-up strategies. The heart of this strategy is letting people know they matter and they belong. Here are some key strategies to consider:

  • New Worshipers—Develop a process for communicating with first-, second-, and third-time worshipers. New people are especially impressed if a call or visit is made by the pastor. It is also recommended that you host some type of new-visitor orientation on your campus and encourage new worshipers to attend. This helps them get to know your vision and culture and provides them with the “next steps” on their worship journey. (Starting Point, Lunch with the Pastor, etc).

  • New Givers—Similar to worship, develop a process to communicate with first-, second-, and third-time givers. New givers need to know they are appreciated and their contributions are supporting an exciting vision for ministry.

  • Major Events—You want to follow up without being too pushy. We recommend building a Follow-Up strategy for your event planning process. For example, community visitors to a church harvest festival would require a more relaxed follow-up. Ask yourself this question: If someone enjoyed this event, what is the next logical event they might find interesting? The answer may or may not be worship. VBS might be a better possibility. If you have a large number of non-church participants, they may not respond to an invitation to worship, but they might be very interested in attending a parenting class or marriage-enriching date night.

  • Care Ministry—There is a unique opportunity for engaging people who participate in a care ministry because, unlike major events, these participants will typically be committed to showing up over a period of several weeks. For example, the typical Financial Peace University class is now nine weeks long. This means the instructor has the ability to form deeper relationships with the participants in an environment of trust and support. Care ministry leaders should be equipped with these relationship skills to help other team members target the best “next step” suggestions “next steps” for people coming out of their program. This means these leaders are not just subject matter experts on a particular program, they also possess a passion and calling to help people get more committed to discipleship growth.

As mentioned before, having a good tracking system is crucial for this step. How do you know if a participant has visited your church two or three times unless you have a great system to track attendance? And of course, they need to feel motivated to share their information each time they visit. Let your congregation know how important it is for them to “check-in” each service, and encourage them to do so during the service. Make this step as easy as possible for everyone with either a handwritten connect card option or a quick and easy mobile connection card. Either way, develop a system that is both easy to track and easy for members to complete.

In closing, we move people from GET to RETAIN after three or more recurring interactions. There are several ways to accomplish this—worship services, care ministries, major events, service opportunities, and even giving opportunities. Remember, having a successful method to track attendance is especially important for RETAIN. Stay tuned for next week as we explore strategies that move people from RETAIN to GROW. Be sure to post any comments or questions in the comment section below. See you next week for GROW!

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