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Does it bother you when someone leaves your church?  The reality is that every church has a “back door.” The key leadership question that must be asked is not “Are we going to lose people?”  The reality is that you are.

Here are the warning signs that indicate a potential move toward the back door is underway.  If you see the following items, you should proactively reconnect and rebuild the relationship: 

  1. A decrease or complete loss in financial support. The last thing that comes is a person’s money.  The first thing that goes is a person’s money.
  2. The wife’s body language. If you want to know if a man is happy, always look at his wife.
  3. Tardiness to responsibilities. This indicates a loss of passion.
  4. Minor items cause major frustrations. This indicates a lack of patience with the ministry.
  5. Complaining. This indicates broad-based frustration with the ministry.
  6. Excitement over another church’s vision. People naturally navigate toward a brighter tomorrow.
  7. Divorce. When a divorce takes place, one individual will often leave the church. Sadly, the other person finds it difficult to fit in with their “married friends” and often leaves to start over at a different congregation. Having the children firmly planted into the church is the key to retaining this relationship.
  8. Resignation of a volunteer position. This is the beginning of removing responsibilities and attachments.
  9. No connection to a small group. If a person cannot connect relationally, they will leave the church.
  10. A mega-church opens a satellite location in your community. This is funny…but true.

My desire for you is to build a strong leadership culture at your church. Use this list to help keep leaders who can help you advance the mission and vision of the church.

Brian Dodd is a church stewardship & leadership consultant. See www.briandoddonleadership.com for additional insights.

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Talk about it...

Joy Brumback

commented on Nov 4, 2011

Good list and very true. My #1 telltale sign is seeing them move from front to middle seating in the sanctuary to the back seats.

Scott Maxwell

commented on Nov 4, 2011

yup.. I've noticed the same

Albert Gunter

commented on Nov 4, 2011

Two other tell-tale signs are coming late and missing Sundays

Caleb Ochieng

commented on Nov 4, 2011

The other telltale clue is when an individual keeps on saying "we are together pastor"-whenever you meet when you have not even asked them any question related to that.

Guy De Swardt

commented on Nov 4, 2011

Another tell-tale sign, is when you see private meetings in the car park after the service. Something's cooking then!

Derrick Tuper

commented on Nov 4, 2011

Good list. I think you can sum it up by saying if you see any change in a behavioral pattern then it's a definate red flag. Patterns change for a reason. This is important because we might think the subtle changes are no big deal. It's not that we need to panic and make assumptions or worse-accusations, but it should warrant investigation to see if everything is okay or at the very least keep a watchful eye and not take the minor pattern changes lightly.

Rex Chakas

commented on Nov 5, 2011

4. Caleb Ochieng says... The other telltale clue is when an individual keeps on saying "we are together pastor"-whenever you meet when you have not even asked them any question related to that. In 2004, the individual who led an exodus from our church thundered "I love this church" 6 or 7 times in one sermon. Two months after that I could not believe that he started his own church using members from our church.

Rex Chakas

commented on Nov 5, 2011

This article brought back memories of 2004 when some people left church to follow someone who claimed God told him to start a new church.

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