I’m going to start off with a tough question. How do you feel when someone leaves your church or small group? I know as a leader in the past I’ve been hurt. I’ve been left confused. Maybe I’ve taken a bit to personally. It’s really easy to be excited and to know why and when people have joined your community, but what about when they leave? Was their departure a healthy transition for them and for your community? What if we were to shift our approach and outlook of members leaving, and continue to care for them through that transition? What should this look like?
Through experience and research I’ve narrowed it down to three key ways we as leaders can better care for and love our members. After all, that’s what we’re here to do, isn’t it?
Three suggestions to better care for members before and during transition:
- Start before they leave. Be aware and proactive with those involved in your community.Check in on each member individually while they’re still a part of your community! It seems simple and maybe a little basic, but often times seems overwhelming (especially for us introverts). There are ways to simplify this though, so you don’t have to have 20 new best friends – lets be real: not everyone can handle that! Use technology to your advantage! We here at Fresh Vine have invested a lot of time in tools for just this purpose. Notifications and prompts to remind you to check in with your members. An email system so you can send personalized emails to the whole group. Make use of technology to make your members feel appreciated and cared about.
- Have an open discussion around leaving.Your church or group may not be the best fit for everyone. Give them explicit permission to leave and find the place that’s right for them! This will not only take the pressure off you, but it will allow them to release or not even pick up the baggage that comes with leaving a community. Let them know you care about their growth and want to see them succeed and thrive wherever they end up.
- Ask Why. Build your character.If they do end up leaving, ask them why. It’s a much better alternative than putting your assumptions on their reasoning. It’s not fair to them, and it’s not helpful to you. If they’re leaving for a reason that hits close to home, take it as constructive (not argumentative), but always remember – it’s ultimately about them. Not you. They need to be somewhere that feeds them in the ways they need.
Caring for those in your community isn’t that difficult, but it needs to be done. Jesus calls us to be disciples, and what better way than to take a little bit of time out of our day to love others like He would.
Photo Credit: will ockenden