Several years ago, we were working with a church that was going through a number of internal changes. The two objectives of our engagement were to help develop a strong infrastructure for growth and to optimize the potential of the ministry team through leadership training.
After several months, we were making great progress internally, but the church was still not growing. In fact, the mystery was that while the church had 20-30 new visitors each week, it had been hovering at about 1,200 people for over two years. They had a lovely facility with multiple services and ample room for growth – but they were just not growing.
So, I asked the ministry team this question: Since you are getting visitors every week, yet the congregation is not growing, one of three things must be happening… Visitors are not returning — new people are not staying long term — new people are pushing out the longer-attending people. Which is it?
Everyone had an opinion – but no one knew the answer.
I asked the CFO to pull a report for me that listed the number of people who gave one gift, two gifts, three gifts, etc. — up to ten gifts in the past 12 months. As I looked at the report a very interesting picture emerged. There was a significant drop in the giving trends after three gifts. The drop was so significant that is was obvious this is where they were losing people. So, we began to explore why…
First Time Visitors received special parking, they were greeted warmly, assisted with directions and seating, and given a nice gift for attending – along with a coupon for a free coffee, tea, and a snack from the church’s coffee shop on their second visit.
Second Time Visitors brought their coupon to the coffee shop to get their free treat, where they were warmly welcomed and properly pampered.
Third Time Visitors became just part of the crowd. Nothing special was offered to them that was not offered to everyone in the congregation.
It was obvious that visitors enjoyed the special attention during the first two weeks but missed it during the third — and many did not return.
We recommended that the pastor send a letter to every person who just gave their third gift. In this letter the pastor would personally welcome them to the congregation, offer his personal pastoral support, and invite them to attend a reception to meet him and learn about church membership (a monthly meeting).
After a few weeks, the first new member reception was held and over 50 people attended. Later that month many became members. This pattern repeated itself over and over, and the church began to grow.
This story is not to recommend this solution for everyone. Each organization is different. I share this story with you to illustrate how an outside consultant can make a real difference. A consultant should provide four things for every client:
- A friendly pair of eyes to study your organization and discover strengths and weaknesses. My very first client asked me to study his ministry like I was his enemy – find every weakness – then help him fix them. We spent a year working together closely to make this a reality.
- A broad base of knowledge and experience in organizational leadership so they know the right questions to ask. The ministry team in my example had been asking, “Why aren’t we growing?” – but it was not the right question. The right question was, “How are we losing people?”
- Every leader has a blind spot. The consultant should be able to speak to the leadership about blind spots and point out hidden stairways to the next level of success. In the example above, leadership was focused on first time visitors – but they did not close the loop. Every leader and every organization are different — but if a leader knew his blind spot, it wouldn’t be a blind spot.
- Make clear recommendations and help implement action. Making recommendations is not enough — there needs to be a clear course of action and metrics to measure the results.
Let Infinity Concepts help you discover your blind spot and reveal the stairway to your next level of growth and success. Let’s talk today!
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