Win Arn & Charles Arn
How sad when apparently genuine converts fail to proceed naturally into church involvement and continued growth! Closing the evangelistic back door is possible, however. Two keys produce significant increases in lasting disciples and growing churches. The first is process; the second concerns ratios.
The Evangelistic Process
The process by which people arrive at a point of Christian decision often determines whether they become responsible members or drop out. Consider four dropout-creating approaches:
* A manipulative process. In one study, 70 percent of those who are now active members came to Christ and joined their church as the result of a member who engaged them in non-manipulative dialogue. Such dialogue views evangelism as a two-way process of honest interaction. The assumption is that not all people see things the same way, and one canned approach will not be appropriate in every situation. The relationship between Christian and non-Christian in this case is friend to friend, the goal being to share an honest concern for the other.
* An evangelistic goal of “decision” rather than “disciple.” When the goal is “a soul saved,” God’s plan for making disciples may get short-circuited. The fact is that not all deciders become disciples; the two are not synonymous. The biblical goal is not simply an oral confession but rather a life transformed and a participating member of Christ’s body. Nowhere in Scripture is the word decision found, yet, the word disciple appears again and again. A decision is only one element of many in the goal of seeing people become disciples and responsible church members.
* A one-time presentation. Effective evangelistic strategy seeks to expose potential disciples to many and varied presentations of the gospel. We all know stories of people who heard the Good News once, were gloriously changed, and went on to become great men or women of faith. When these miraculous events happen and they do we can rejoice. It should be understood, however, that this is not the norm. More often, when someone comes to faith, that person has heard the message again and again and again and then makes a Christian commitment.
* An approach unrelated to a church body. The closer evangelism is to the local church, the greater the fruit that remains. The new Christian must build friendships with members in the church. When the events leading up to a non-Christian’s profession of faith occurs outside any relationship with the people of the local church, no ties are established, and the perceived need for involvement in the church is low.
The Crucial Ratios
Here are seven ratios that have significant effect in closing the evangelistic back door:
* Friendship ratio-1:7. Each new person should be able to identify at least seven friends in the church within the first six months.
* Role/task ratio-60:100. At least 60 roles and tasks should be available for every 100 members in a church.
* Group ratio 7:100. At least seven relational groups places where friendships are built should be available in a church for every 100 members.
* New-group ratio 1:5. Of every five relational groups in a church, one should have been started in the past two years.
* Committee member ratio 1:5. One of every five committee members should have joined the church within the last two years.
* Staff ratio-1:150. A church should have one full-time staff member for every 150 persons in worship.
* Visitor ratio-3:10. Of the first-time visitors who live in the church’s ministry area, three of every ten should be actively involved within a year.
This article “Retaining Converts” by Win Arn & Charles Arn was excerpted from the book Leadership Handbooks of Practical Theology by James D. Berkley. Published by Baker Books. July 2011. It may be used for study & research purposes only.
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.’