9 Characteristics of a Highly Engaged Member
Does your church have a working definition of a “highly engaged new member”? You should for several reasons. First, It will clarify what a disciple is in response to Jesus command to go and make them. Second, it will help you determine how (or if) your assimilation process for your new converts is really working. Third, a clear definition will help church leaders develop plans and priorities so that more people move toward this goal.
Here are nine defining characteristics. A highly engaged new church member
1. …understands and identifies with the goals of the church. A goal is not a purpose statement. It’s a list of specific objectives you plan to accomplish in the coming year. The church’s goals should be included in any new members orientation class or session. How many of your members and attendees could list at least two of the church’s goals for the coming year?
2. ….attends worship regularly. For most Christians, Sunday morning is the focal point in the church calendar when the people of God come together to worship Him and celebrate life in Christ. A fluctuation in worship attendance is the first sign of a person beginning to drop out.
3. …experiences spiritual growth and progress. Every Christian needs to feel a sense of spiritual growth. This is especially true for new Christians who have so much to learn about their new life in Christ. A class/group for new believers is important, in addition to a class/group for new members.
4. …takes a formal step of affiliation with the church. The values clarification study has found that when people take a public stand in support of an issue, they remain a convert a longer time than if they are just a silent supporter. The study poses obvious implications for the church. While some churches are moving away from formal membership, we have to find and offer ways people can publicly show their commitment to Christ (such as baptism) and to their church (such as membership).
5. …has friends in the church. New members who remain active in their church make an average of seven new friends in the first year; drop outs make less than two. Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, Calif., uses its Christian education classes to facilitate these important relationships. The church’s purpose statement reads: The classes are to function relationally, providing the necessary feeling of belonging and togetherness, providing social functions appropriate for each age level, providing social concern and practical care for the members.
6. …has a church role that complements his/her spiritual gift. A role is an appointed, elected or voluntary position, with the responsibility lasting at least a year. The more roles available to be filled in a church, the more people can be involved. Churches effectively assimilating newcomers average 55 roles for every 100 constituents. Declining churches average 27 per 100.
7. …is part of a small group. Very few people in small groups drop out of church. Groups provide a unique connecting and growing experience for new and old members alike. Since newcomers have difficulty breaking in to groups that have been together for more than a year, 20 percent of all groups in a church should be less than two years old.
8. …is tithing to the church. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be, also (Matt. 6:21). An important part of any member’s responsibility to the church is financial support of its ministries. Stewardship should be stressed as part of one’s commitment to Christ and the church.
9. …participates in the Great Commission. New Christians are some of the world’s most enthusiastic people. Many of them have just done 180-degree turnarounds. Their enthusiasm is so contagious that often friends and relatives come to Christ and the church over a very short period of time. This natural desire to tell others should be encouraged.
How can you increase the number of people in your church who acquire these characteristics? Here are four suggestions:
* Develop your own dashboard of defining characteristics. Discuss, pray and then decide on the ones that fit your church.
* Review and redesign your new members orientation class around your definition.
* Develop a system that allows you to evaluate present attendees with respect to your dashboard. Or ask attendees to self-assess.
* Meet with various ministry teams to come up with ways that move people from passive spectator to engaged member.
Charles Arn serves as visiting professor of Christian ministry for the new Wesley Seminary in Marion, Ind.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes ‘Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.’
This article 9 Characteristics of a Highly Engaged Member by Charles Arn was excerpted from: www.outreachmag.com web site. May 2008. It may be used for study & research purposes only.