In my role as a motivational speaker, it’s a question I have to examine often.
And, I want to be clear from the offset, by all means no ALL Churches, nor Fraternal or Service groups are dying. However, it is a huge problem nationwide. Nearly every day, I talk to a member of a church, club, or group that bemoans the fact that membership is dropping, interest is waning, and and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep the doors open and pay the bills.
Some blame it on money being tight (it is), on the increasing role of social media taking the place of personal interaction (it is, to a point) or that folks don’t have time. (Sometimes correct, but we DO make time for what is important to us)
I don’t think it’s any of that. Those groups that survive in spite of the reasons mentioned above, and have found a way to turn those into assets instead of liabilities.
I think it’s because we fail to be warm and welcoming to newcomers, plain and simple.
This past weekend, my wife and I visited a charity event that was held at a local church. To be fair, the charity was NOT the Church, but I believe they allow the charity to use their facility. We went, and the folks from the charity welcomed us warmly and were grateful for our support.
However, there were folks from the church there. Want to hazard a guess as to how many of them approached, or even acknowledged our presence in any way?
If you guess zero, you guess correctly. Not a single one. We came, donated, hung around, and left without a single person from the Church saying as much as hello. They all clustered in their little groups, while those of us who came out were ignored.
If it sounds like I’m bitter, I’m not. Not in the least. I’m a bit angry and frustrated because this is one of the Churches that constantly complains about declining attendance and what their future might be, yet, when given a chance to greet a whole bunch of people and make a good first impression, they didn’t.
It’s certainly not limited to Churches. I see it all the time…Lions Clubs, Elks, Moose, Optimist Clubs, Bicycling Clubs, Ham Radio Clubs, the list is endless.
So, I’m going to give you folks a free tip. Do you want to see your group grow? You can hire a Social Media expert, bring in motivational speakers like myself, run specials, and more. But NONE of it amounts to a hill of beans unless you’re warm and welcoming to newcomers.
When you see someone you don’t recognize come through the door, don’t wait on someone else. Shake their hand. Say hello. Tell them you’re glad they are here. Be warm, welcoming, and sincere. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. Take the lead. That is the ONE way to growth. Everything else is secondary. Trust me.