Does your church respond to absent members as well as this Domino’s Pizza responded to a missing customer?
The staff at a Domino’s Pizza in Logan, Utah noticed a regular customer had not ordered a pizza in 11 days. They called the customer; the call immediately went to voice mail. So, one of the regular delivery staff stopped by the customer’s home. Something seemed amiss, so the staffer called 911.
When a sheriff’s unit investigated, they heard a man inside the house calling for help. The customer ended up hospitalized. Domino’s staff visited him in the hospital.
Upon hearing this story, I immediately wondered how many churches are contacting members who don’t participate in worship for a week and a half.
I know, I know. Almost every church in North America can dust off a story about how church members noticed a long time member’s absence and addressed it.
Let’s be brutally honest. Each and every one of those churches also has former members who stopped participating in congregational life and never heard a single word from their church.
No analogy is perfect. One could argue far more churches provide this kind of care to members than pizza franchises extend this level of kindness to customers. True enough.
The analogy also falls short in this way: For Domino’s its exceptional to personally contact a regular customer; for churches, such care should be the norm for each and every absent member.
My engaging in truth-telling is accompanied by a strong dose of reality. It’s more challenging than ever for churches to keep up with absent members,
Throughout North America, regular worshippers are attending less frequently. So it’s harder to gauge when a member is “at-risk” or a member is “at-the-lake” or “at-youth-sports.” With regular attenders attending less regularly, it’s more difficult to find members who know everyone who usually attends a specific worship service.
Christians buying into America’s mantra of individualism exacerbates this trend. As such, more Christians chafe when their churches hold them accountability. There is a real risk of members taking offense at a phone call asking why they’ve missed a month of worship services.
The number of demographic groups not participating in churches is growing. Today we have such classifications as “nones” (people who claim no particular religion) and “dones” (people who insist they will never go back to a church).
I’ve spent nearly 30 years encouraging and exhorting churches to reach out to people beyond their own walls. Today I am investing more time helping churches focus on their own members.
Scripturally speaking, it is vitally important for churches to model the love of Christ for one another. It helps set a godly pattern for relationships, not just with one another, but within families and the community at large.
Churches do certain weekly tasks like clockwork. Hold worship services. Deposit offerings. It’s time to elevate contacting members who are absent for two consecutive weeks to a weekly task. Practically speaking, that means the following.
- Create a system for identifying absent members and contacting them.
- Train members in how to interact with fellow members when they make contact.
- Test different ways of communicating, from personal visits to phone calls to text messages.
- Monitor the system, ensuring each week contacts are attempted.
How does your church go about identifying and contacting missing members? Share your thoughts in the comments section or shoot me an email.