Are All Church Visitors Equal?

I saw a post yesterday where the two most important areas fo the church to all visitors were identified.

1. The Nursery

2. The Bathroom

I had half jokingly asked, “Are those the visitors you want?” I realized later that was a sort of half finished question.. “Are those the visitors you want to focus on?”

In youth ministry, and this is different than in general ministry, not all visitors are there of their own free will. Some are actually there against all their own wishes. So my background is a little different. But there are times where people you are there to minister to are really embracing their “rocky soil” side, and thying to be “chocking thorns” to every one else.

Church in general has missed out on the large body of accepted HR practices and wisdom from the corporate world over the last 20 years or so. And while outsourcing and downsizing have given corporate HR a black eye, some of the things are particulalry useful to have as a distinction.

Today I am going to go over the Three main levels of engagement people can have with your organization.

A good summary article on the Gallup Engagement levels can be found here:

The basic Idea is that people can be Actively Engeged, Not Engaged, or Actively Disengaged.

Now, if you are counting visitors as your metric, these three groups are all equal. But if you have a mission or a goal you are trying to achieve, the three groups are VERY different.

Now at this point you may be saying, everyone has to start somewhere, not everyone can start at the top, right?

Partially true, not everyone can have the same history of being “bought in” and not every one can have the knowledge to be effective day one. But people do not start Actively disengaged and grow into Fully engaged as the normal growth path.

For the most part people start at a new place Actively engaged, and then tend to fall into not engaged, or actively disengaged. This can be due to change of priority, normal concerns of the world, over commitment and lack of sabbath, bad interpersonal issues with people, changes of service times, pastorial leadership etc.

In the general congregation, once people reach not engaged, or actively disengaged they tend to stop coming. In the youth programs that is not the case.

you might be asking:

So are you saying people who are not fully engaged should not go to church?

No people that have fallen out of Actively engaged, and get re-engaged, but we have to know who they are and get them back involved.

However the actively disengaged should be treated very seriously. They can consume all your time and focus, divide the church, create drama where none existed, speak ill of you and others, interrupt lessons, prevent people from getting to engage and generally make things uncomfortable and miserable for everyone. Worse yet, their presence can and will drive off the people that are Actively engaged, or not engaged.

I am not saying be rude, judgemental, superior, but do not confuse your roles here. You need to train and equip the actively engaged. Those that are actively disengaged you need to love on, be the church to them.

So my challenge would be to think about the people you have in your ministry, are you working to make your environment that is a place where the Actively engaged, can in fact do the mission of God. 

On a mission trip to Jamaica we went on, there was no child care, and there was not hot water, in fact there was not even a restroom in the building. But there is not anyone on the trip that would have skipped the trip based on those two features. And in fact had there been a lot of amenities and vacationy things, while we would have attracted more people, we also would have done less actual mission work. The larger and more would have done less. 

Focus your energy on equiping the Actively engaged, and converting the not engaged to Actively engaged.