“How can we help our church members grow?” is a common question among church leaders. Undergirding that question may be others such as “How can we reach people for our church?” or “How can we get our members more involved in ministry?” or (if we are honest) “How can we get our people to support the church financially?”
These are all valid questions that express the concern to help believers grow in their spiritual commitment. Albert L. Winseman, a Methodist minister and an associate with The Gallup Organization, suggests that we take a step back and first ask, “How can we help people to be more engaged in our church?” In Growing an Engaged Church, Winseman draws on extensive research to show that once a person is engaged in the life of the church, he or she will show growth in life satisfaction, serving, inviting and giving.
Winseman observes that conservative churches have done a better job of connecting with people at the emotional level than have mainline churches. He states, “In today’s postmodern world, people don’t show up at worship services because they want to know more about God; they come because they want to experience God. They want to have an emotional connection with the holy.”
He points out that the three things that will have the greatest impact on a person’s engagement in the church are clarifying the expectations of membership; helping members discover what they do best; and creating small groups. Ironically, encouraging people to discover and use their natural talents tends to go against conventional wisdom in most churches. We are more concerned with putting people into slots than assessing whether they fit there or not! If we help people discover what they do best, give them a chance to do it, and then provide some level of accountability (such as small group involvement), they are well on the way to becoming really engaged in the life of the church.
The book tends to be a bit repetitive and even “sermonic” at times, but the concepts and suggestions ring true. I think you will find it helpful as you seek to help people live out their faith in community.