• "Caring for Inactive Members: How to Make God's House a Home," a six-hour course that equips parishioners to reach out in authentic, caring ways to people who are inactive or unchurched. Available from Stephen Ministries, a system for training and organizing members to provide Christian care to people experiencing a wide range of crises or life difficulties.
• "How to Shrink Your Church's Inactive Member List, Church Effectiveness Nuggets: Volume 6," The Parish Paper.
• The Other 80 Percent: Turning Your Church's Spectators into Active Participants by Scott Thumma and Warren Bird (Jossey-Bass, 2011).
• Transforming Leadership: New Vision for a Church in Mission by Norma Cook Everist (Fortress Press, 2008).
• You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church ... and Rethinking Church by David Kinnaman (Baker Books, 2011).
Many congregations struggle with whether to remove people who no longer participate in church from membership rolls. On the one hand, it serves little purpose to carry people on the rolls who are absent from church life. On the other hand, how many of these people might return to the fold with a little more encouragement?
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David Lintvedt's life has turned full circle since returning to church after a 10-year hiatus. His journey since joining Trinity Lutheran Church, Staten Island, N.Y., has included receiving his master of divinity degree from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and becoming a member of St. Mark Lutheran Church, Pennsburg, Pa.
Lintvedt, a single parent, remains active at St. Mark as a council member and Sunday School teacher. He also fills in for when the pastor is away.
Even though Lintvedt has not followed the path to ordained ministry, he said he feels "called to be of service and to use my education to share the word with people. To let them know that the gospel is for them too. Christ is here for all of us. I enjoy the feeling that we are all in this together. Ministry happens by everyone. We are all called into the priesthood of all believers that Luther talks about."
Lintvedt's experience as an inactive church member influences how he treats newcomers today. "It's important to welcome people, but not pressure them to come back," he said. "To just let them know that this is a welcoming place."
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