Saturday, August 8, 2009

Stages of membership induction

Why do most visitor's visit a UU church?"

Here are some possible reasons.

  • Visitors are UUs and they are visiting in our area or have moved to our area.

  • Visitors are dissatisfied with their faith tradition and looking for a church more liberal or open to flexible theologies.

  • Visitors have children and want to obtain some sort of religious instruction and religious upbringing for them.

  • Visitors are looking for people who would be supportive of their religious and spiritual growth.

  • Visitors sometimes have problems and are looking for "help", material as well as emotional.

  • Visitors are looking for validation for their values and confirmation of a their way of life, or they are looking for values that help them build a more satisfying and fulfilling way of life.

  • Visitors have certain talents and abilities and interests and are looking for activities that would allow them to use their talents and abilities in satisfying ways.

  • Visitors are looking for an organization with a mission and a vision of how to make the world a healthier and happier place to be.

  • Visitors are often looking for a minister they like and they feel likes them.

  • Visitors are looking for an inspiring, motivating, interesting, and enjoyable worship service.

  • Visitors are looking for a place they feel welcome, and a place where they would feel comfortable belonging.

  • There are probably more reasons that people visit a church but I think that these might be the most important ones. If a church were to respond to these visitor expections and requirements how could they engage visitors to return, and one they have come a few times retain them for the long haul?

    The road to full membership in a church can be thought of as having stages. I call this "membership induction."

    The first stage is getting noticed by potential newcomers.

    The second stage is attraction which stimulates a visit.

    The third stage is courtship where the newcomer is interested and wants to learn more, and begins to develop relationships with church members. The newcomer may be paired with a sponsor or mentor.

    The fourth stage is engagement where the newcomer wants to more formally pursue the possibility of taking a vow of covenanting with the church. This involves a proces of study and discernment as well as further relationship building.

    The fifth stage is taking vows of covenanting.

    A church which is successful in growing its membership provides services to newcomes who are at each stage in this membership process. The services and activities the church would engage in for stage one would be different from the services and activities at stage three and four.

    This is article #15 in a series on Birth Of A Congregaton.

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