When you run a website, you do all kinds of analyses to find out what people are reading and looking at. We at BER are confounded by the singularly consistent results over the last few years. Surprisingly, the number one hit is on the BER website is (drum roll please) “How to Leave a Church.” Hmmm, now that’s a head scratcher for a site that focuses on our intended demographic of elders. Are church leaders asking the question, “How do I leave my church?” Maybe so, maybe not, but someone is asking that question.
We have had three different experts in website analytics check the results and they all came to the same conclusion. That is without question our number one hit. I could understand if people were wanting to watch our flagship series by Alexander Strauch, “Restoring Biblical Eldership.” Or resources we have on Qualifications for Elders, cleverly disguised as “Spiritual Maturity based on Elder Qualifications.” Or, how to deal with difficult elders. There seems to be far more interesting and relevant topics for elders and leaders than, “How to leave a church.”
Most of the hits come by way of organic searches, that is, people specifically searching the internet for a subject using words that are in the title of this article or in the body of the article. So this is not just elders looking for this subject, but people in general who are presumably currently involved in church. Maybe some of those people are in your congregation. They haven’t moved away yet, but they are thinking about it. This is a reality all leaders must accept and anticipate. So what can be done about it?
Here’s an idea, include on your church’s website or in the literature rack an article or pamphlet on “How to leave the church.” In this you can advise folks on how to leave well. You may say, “Why should we encourage people to leave?” That is not the point; the BER article, for example, encourages people to examine their reasons carefully and to speak to someone in leadership before they leave.
Be assured, there are people right now who are on the fence wondering if things would go better for them at a different church. This may be a wake-up call for your leadership team and an opportunity give people a way to give you feedback.