Increasing Member Retention, Part 2 The Evangelical Way

July 29, 2010    By: Matt W. @ 9:24 pm   Category: Life

In the spirit of the 13th Article of Faith, I would like to spend some time looking at retention strategies in the Evangelical church, and especially those of Nelson Searcy as outlined in “Fusion: Turning First-Time Gests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church

Increasing Member Retention, Part1 The Problem with the Current Model

July 24, 2010    By: Matt W. @ 10:08 pm   Category: Life

Two years ago, we were told our ward was the top baptizing ward in the top baptizing stake in Texas. “Good Job!” we were told. “It’s because you are such a loving and welcoming ward.” We were told. We had 20+ baptisms. We retained 1 person.

As a very dedicated convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one of my main concerns is seeing those who come into the church, like I did, not make it. We have lived in the ward we are in currently for 6 years, and have seen 60+ baptisms in that time, but only 4 (1 family, 1 lone man) that I know of are still regularly active. My wife and I sometimes refer to this situation as the “catch and release” program of the church.

Now there are, upon reflection, many different reasons for this abysmal statistic, but none of this is because of baseball baptisms or faking records. In other words, missionaries are not breaking the rules.
In order to capture some of the issues I’ve seen, I’m going to break our wards missionary work out into the 4 typical areas of missionary work. All these issues are anecdotal, but that is all that’s available to me at the time.

1. Finding- A lot of the people who are found by the missionaries in our area are either transient people or disabled. A large percent of them don’t have cars. These people are typically not member referrals.

2. Teaching- Many people who are taught do not completely understand the expectations the church has for its members (callings, service, visiting other members, etc.) Few members are available to take time off to meet investigators.

3. Baptizing- In conjunction with #2, Many people who are baptized, have had trouble fulfilling their commitments prior to baptism, especially the commitment to attend church regularly.

4. Retaining- People have complained about not feeling welcome at our church. Converts typically do not last long enough that being endowed ever becomes a concern. Most new members are brought in solely on the missionaries’ efforts, not through member referral. Home Teaching is poor.

Above, I have tried to assemble a quick sketch of the symptoms of the problem we are having.

And so I ask you, are you having the same problems in your area? And if so, what do you think is the root cause? Ie- What are we doing wrong and how do we repent of it?

In part two, I will talk about ways I think missionary/retention efforts are being done in other churches, and ask if we should borrow any of their ideas. First I just wanted to see how typical my anecdotal concerns are.

Mormonism and the Documentary Hypothesis

July 20, 2010    By: Jacob J @ 11:06 pm   Category: Scriptures

On the one hand, it seems like Mormons are uniquely primed to accept the Documentary Hypothesis (DH) given that:

  1. The Book of Mormon was compiled by a late redactor (Mormon) in a way that is at least superficially similar to what R is proported to have done in the DH.
  2. There is a long tradition in Mormonism of suspecting that there were problems in the transmission of the Bible. Not just the problem of translation noted in the eighth article of faith, but the outright tampering alleged in 1 Ne 13.

On the other hand, the JST and the Pearl of Great Price make the DH threatening in ways that are uniquely Mormon, for example:

  1. Moses 3:5 seems to support the theory that the two creation accounts of Genesis 1/2 are spiritual/physical respectively. This theory, of course, is contradicted by the DH and raises questions about the nature of the JST.
  2. Abraham 4-5 crosses a P-J seem which is an odd thing for it to do if it was written by Abraham.