• "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).
Lent and Easter (as well as Advent and Christmas) tend to generate the greatest traffic from folks who almost never attend throughout the year but reconnect with the church community during these holy seasons. Church leaders acknowledge, celebrate and at times bemoan the countless quasi-visitors during Lent and especially at Easter. But they tend not to consider that these are times to woo the less active back into more active involvement.
These holy days should never be an occasion to berate inactive members for their lack of engagement weekly. Rather, they are perfect opportunities to remind everyone of your congregation's great activities, opportunities for ministry and small groups.
During the holy weeks around Easter, when congregations commemorate Jesus' sacrificial act and celebrate his resurrection, you can also spread the message that your congregation offers fulfilling worship services and activities 52 weeks a year — not just during these high holy days.
Now is the time, not just to collect for ELCA World Hunger, Habitat for Humanity or Bread for the World, but also to display and acknowledge the many service and ministry groups and opportunities available. Passion plays and skits by children and youth draw in extended family members. So what better time to let them know about the educational and spiritual enrichment opportunities for all ages throughout the year?
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© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers