The previous article gave some data on how people came to us over the past 8 years. The other side of the coin is that people are leaving at different times.
First of all, going back to those who were here in 2010 and have since left:
21% left due to disagreement over theology or practice
4% left due to church discipline matters
23% drifted away -they stopped attending regularly.
38% moved away because of work, study or housing issues
17 % died
Then we have had people who joined with us for a while and were attending regularly (for at least 6 months) but moved on.
41% moved on because they found a church more to their preference in terms of theology, style of music, ministries etc.
4% left because of church discipline matters
11% drifted away
37% moved – primarily this was due to housing
This again reminds us that we never stay still in church life. People come and go for various reasons. It’s important to keep persevering with the Gospel. There are some cases where it is worth reflecting because maybe we could have done more to help people settle and stay but there are a number of cases where moving on was inevitable and in deed healthy. For example, one person moved on because we sent them on as a Gospel worker. Others needed to find the best place for them to serve.
It is worth reflecting that there will be a similar type of spread in terms of those who visit and don’t stay more thhan one or two weeks. Some will find that they don’t relate to our music, style of teaching, theology etc. Others will not experience church discipline but they won’t come back because they aren’t ready to have their particular sin challenged. Others will drift in and out. Sometimes it will be right to think “Could we have done more to welcome them?” Sometimes another church will be best placed to witness and welcome to them and in some cases, sadly there will be little we could have done. Those who came were challenged by the Gospel but did not want to hear.
One additional bit of data – our current regular attendance is made up of about 36% who were here 8 years ago and 64% who have joined us since. Of those who have come in during the past 8 years, 66% continue to meet with us regularly and 34% have left/moved on/drifted away or gone to be with the Lord.
Now this data tells us some things. It tells us about movement of people. It gives us some of a feel for what causes people to come and join with us and what leads to them leaving but it only scratches the surface. It doesn’t tell us about conversions, it doesn’t tell us about changed hearts. It doesn’t tell us whether people are actually going on with the Lord. This information is helpful in giving some clues about what is happening but it does not tell us about the real health of the church and how we are doing at glorifying God.