Chris' Blog

12.01.12

Chris Philbeck

Closing the Door

There’s lot’s of ways to describe it.  Some say “It’s the ugly secret that no one wants to talk about.”  Others say, “It’s the 800 pound gorilla in the room.”  The bottom line is it’s a problem, a big problem, especially for the megachurch.  What am I talking about?  I’m talking about the back door.  The truth is in most churches the back door is open and while new people are coming in the front door, others are walking out the back door never to return.  Now, to be fair, some of those who leave were never really committed to Christ and his church.  They are like the seed that falls on the “rocky” soil or among the “thorns” that Jesus talks about in The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23).  They gave an initial appearance of commitment but it wasn’t real.  At the same time there’s always a natural attrition that takes place in every church.  People die, people move, people divorce, people get mad, etc.  But the bottom line is the back door of the church is always open.  That’s certainly been the case at Mount Pleasant Christian Church over the years.  At the risk of being too honest I’ll tell you that when I arrived at MPCC in November 2001, the average weekly attendance was 2,107.  Today, in 2012, our average attendance has fluctuated throughout the year between 2,900 and 3,100.  But here’s the deal, from 2002 – 2012 (ytd) we have added 2,847.  You do the math.  While our growth has been solid, it’s fallen well short of what it could/should be.  So what’s the answer?  Let me give you four things.  First, establish high expectations for membership.  Research shows that as churches lower their expectations of members and attendees, the result is an exodus of people from the church.  Why would anyone want to be a part of something that expects nothing?  Second, get people connected to a small group (Journey Home Groups).  This helps create the kind of community that leads to long-term commitment.  Third, get people involved in serving.  The earlier a new member or attendee can get involved in a church’s ministries, the higher the likelihood of effective assimilation.  Fourth, help people develop relationships within the church.  This is why we have developed a new focused discipleship ministry called The Journey.  We have incorporated all four of these elements in The Journey to do two things.  First, and most important, is to help people become fully-developing followers of Christ.  Second, to do all we can to shut the back door.  Through The Journey you have an opportunity to make a commitment to Christ and his church.  We make sure you understand that this isn’t a casual commitment it’s the most important commitment of your life.  The Journey also gives you an opportunity to begin to travel down a specific pathway designed to help you grow.  That pathway will involve opportunities to be connected to a small group (Journey Home Group or Journey Care Group), opportunities to grow through a connection with caring and gifted people who have been trained to minister to you on a personal level (Stephen Ministry), opportunities to grow deeper in your understanding and application of God’s Word (Journey Bible Classes or Journey University) and opportunities to discover and use your gifts and talents to serve people (Journey Ministry).  I genuinely believe that The Journey is something that can have a dramatic impact on your life and our church.  I hope you agree.  Log onto www.mpcc.info and click on the link “Join The Journey” or contact Ken Jones at . 

Jesus cares,

Pastor Chris