As a parish leader, you know that each person attending mass or participating in a small group is valuable. Every parishioner matters. You hope that each person wants to grow spiritually as a part of your parish. But you realize that people come and go. Every parish has losses. People move away or graduate to heaven. And it’s inevitable that some people leave the parish despite its best efforts to help them belong.
Is your parish intentional in its efforts to retain the people who have come through your doors? What can your parish do to reduce the number of folks who drift out the back door of your church?
These three keys to parishioner retention can help:
1. Identify Where the Loss is Occurring
You may find that the majority of those leaving your church are part of a specific demographic. Are you losing young families? Senior adults? Families with teens? Young adults? Knowing where the loss is occurring gets you closer to understanding why the loss is happening. And knowing why will help you create the right solution.
2. Determine the Issue: Is it Process, Personnel, or Perception?
So why are parishioners leaving? Does your parish have a process in place to keep track of people’s involvement? Some churches put a lot of effort into getting people in the front door but lack a process that helps them decide to stay.
If a specific demographic group is dwindling, it may be time to add personnel—paid or volunteer staff—to reach and retain those folks. Losses could also result from having the wrong people in place—say, a nursery director who gets annoyed by children.
Your parish could be losing people because of differences in perception between the leaders and the people. The two groups might see things very differently. Leaders can lose touch with what their people are really experiencing in their church and in their lives.
Some areas where there might be a leader/people disconnect:
- Vision – Is the leadership casting a clear vision? Are the people buying in?
- Worship – Are masses drawing people together, or perhaps alienating them?
- Relevance – Do the people feel that the leaders know them and understand their struggles?
- Spiritual Health – Do the leaders know whether their people are spiritually healthy?
While any combination of these issues could be involved, knowing whether it’s mostly a matter of process, personnel or perception gives you a place to start in improving retention in your parish.
3. Create the Right Solution
Anecdotes don’t tell the whole story. To really address retention, you need accurate information about your people’s attendance and involvement.
ParishSOFT Family Suite helps parishes close the back door to mass attendance and membership.
Of course, no technology can substitute for a real, human connection. People want to know that they are personally loved and valued by others, especially by their parish family. And once you’ve formed those meaningful personal connections, the right technology can help you to consistently maintain and deepen them.
And it’s feeling deeply connected that makes someone say, “This is where I belong.”
ParishSOFT has decades of experience working with ministries of all sizes, for more creative ideas and suggestions on how our software can help your parish to thrive, contact ParishSOFT’s Sales Team at 866-930-4774 x6 or online at parishsoft.com/about/contact-us.