Why are people at your church? What causes them to think that your church is, well, their church?
Last time, we looked at PROGRAM–the third of our five reasons people are at your church. The reasons people make a home at a local church are critical to keeping them there. And reason #4 is important to understand as well.
PEOPLE is the next reason many have made your church their home. They claim your church as theirs because of the meaningful relationships they have established there. People will naturally want to be where their friends are, so the friendships at church become a “glue” that “sticks” people to your church, increasing the frequency of their attendance and elevating their enthusiasm for the work we are doing together.
This is a really good reason for people to love your church. We should be friends. Many churches believe they are friendly, but what we are usually saying is that we find our friends there. Whether or not we’re being friendly to outsiders can be a different issue–and one for us to consider another day.
Every pastor knows that true assimilation happens not with programs, but with friends. When people establish relationships in our church, they feel connected, and the church becomes “our” church.
When change comes, however, my PEOPLE connection can be affected. What happens when someone’s friend leaves the church (for any reason)? When my PEOPLE are no longer there, the church feels different–like with our other connectors, I feel disoriented. If my friend leaves town, I feel lonelier than before. If my friends start attending another church down the street, I am tempted to join them.
So when a pastor makes changes to the church’s ministry in a way that results in some choosing to leave, the friends of the departing are affected too. As long as everyone’s happy, well, the more friends the merrier!
So, as we’ve seen with PLACE, PERSONALITY, PROGRAM, and PEOPLE, the reasons to connect to a church are many, but each of these is risked when a leader seeks to initiate change. There’s one more to consider next week before we begin discussing a strategy that can help us make change without disorienting those we lead.