As a church leader, you know that each person in your congregation is valuable. You hope that each person will want to grow spiritually as a part of your church family. But you realize that people come and go. Every church will have losses, and it’s inevitable that some folk will leave the church despite its best efforts to help them.

Yet, even though you realize that people come and go, you’d like to cut down on the “going” as much as possible. Is your church intentional in its efforts to retain the people who have come through your doors? What can your church do to reduce the number of baptized members who drift out the back door?

This issue of Elder’s Digest places special emphasis on nurture and retention. We understand that the church has invested a lot of time and money to gain new members, but now we have to discover creative and consistent ways to keep them in. Why are people leaving the church and what can you do to prevent it?

You may find that the majority of those leaving your church are part of a specific demographic. Are you losing young families? Senior adults? Families with teens? Young adults? Knowing where the loss is occurring helps you to understand why the loss is happening, and how you can create the right solution.

Your church could be losing people because of differences in perception between leaders and the people; the two groups might see things very differently! Leaders can lose touch with what people are really experiencing in their church and in their lives. Here are some areas where leader/people disconnects can occur:

• Vision: Is leadership casting a clear vision? Are people buying in?

• Worship: Are the worship services drawing people together or alienating them?

• Relevance: Do people feel that their leaders know their needs and understand their struggles?

• Spiritual health: Do leaders know if their people are spiritually healthy?

While any combination of these issues could be involved, knowing whether it is mostly a matter of process, personnel, or perception gives you a place to start in improving retention and nurturing in your church.

May the reading of this magazine help you to discover new ways to nurture and retain people in your church.