Too often churches take for granted they are providing sufficient care for members. It is a short step from taking member care for granted to members feeling taken for granted. I recommend church leaders ask the following three questions in assessing member care.
How well is our system for tracking member participation working?
Regardless of size, churches need a system for tracking participation. Such a system helps churches identify people to serve in programs and ministries. It’s the most effective way of noticing members who are missing from congregational life.
Sometimes small churches push back on my assertion, saying they don’t have the resources for such tracking. The reality is, it’s easier to track participation in small churches. An elder with a printout of the membership roll can record attendance each service from a choir loft.
Larger churches have the means for software for recording participation. The question is, does your church’s software fit the needs of your congregation? What is the process for recording weekly attendance? What is the process for recording contacts with members who are missing from congregational life?
How well are we engaging members in the life of the church?
I am well aware of the struggles churches face in persuading members to serve in leadership roles. Yet, it’s very important to invite all members to participate beyond Sunday morning a few times each year.
In answering this question, review how many times each year the entire church is invited to participate. This could be fellowship meals, congregational surveys or sending large cards signed by members to missionaries.
Consider who is responsible for ensuring members are invited to serve beyond Sunday morning. See if there are ways to improve the process of inviting. Look at how many programs require a commitment of two years, verses two months or two days.
In addition to reviewing how many leadership roles were filled or remained vacant, consider how many people were asked to serve in leadership roles. Process whether the church needs to improve how it recruits leaders.
How well do we respond to member milestones and emergencies?
Milestones and emergencies carry emotional weight for members. Thus, they should be important to congregations.
Milestones include birthdays, wedding anniversaries, baptismal birthday, etc. Churches celebrate these in a number of ways, from monthly fellowship events to prayers in worship to personal notes from the pastor. Review how your church regularly celebrates with members.
Emergencies and hardships are opportunities for churches to extend the love of Christ to members.
When assessing how well the congregation responds to emergencies, start by reviewing how well members know they need to inform the church about emergencies. Too often members assume the church has heard about their hardship, when in fact no one at church knows what happened.
Next, consider how quickly the congregation responded to member emergencies in the past months or year. Did members respond on their own? Did elders or a pastor respond? Did both respond?
Finally, review how well your congregation’s first responders are trained. Are they equipped to pray aloud with others? How comfortable are caregivers with a “ministry of presence?” Are they following privacy guidelines?
What does your church do well in caring for members? Leave your experience in the comments or shoot me an email.
3 thoughts on “Three Diagnostic Questions for Member Care”
Kevin: which tracking systems are appropriate and/or integrated for member care for smaller churches?
Tom: Smaller churches are most often using Church 360, Shepherd’s Staff and Church Windows. It seems with smaller churches prioritizing who is entering information is more important than the specific software. All the above programs are functional.