3 Action Steps for Increasing Congregational Engagement
Here’s the situation
A congregation might be aging, disconnected from demographic shifts in the neighborhood, undergoing leadership and other administrative conflicts, or all of the above. What happens? Congregational engagement necessarily goes down. Why? It just does not feel good to stick around; there is no blessing in participating.
Step One – Increase Communication
The congregation needs to hear more from the leadership. It is not necessarily about quantity or volume, but more so about transparency and progress. People need to understand where things are headed and what was resolved. People should become aware of the challenges that they face and how the leadership is making preparation to courageously engage them.
Step Two – Customize Programming
Yes, keep programs going. But, the congregation needs to see proof that the leadership is trying to make improvements. Or, at the least, trying things. And, the best way to do that is to show how the programming is empathic to the life contexts of the people with whom it is trying to connect. New programs are good. But, either way, be more specific about who a program is for, what the program is trying to achieve, and why those two things are critically related.
Step Three – Set New Expectations
Sure, progress is being made and people are being heard. But, what that means is that things are not going back to some idyllic time in the past. Instead, better will include new and that means we all have to do our part. This is a difficult, but necessary, part of congregational leadership. And, it is neither helpful nor correct to leave it simply to the pastor or elected leadership to take the responsibility. In cases where there is much work to be done in terms of congregational engagement, it means that everyone has a part to play.
Summary: Increase communication, customize programming, and set new expectations.