We recently discovered a very significant blind spot. Our Bible School is staffed 7am to 2pm Monday to Thursday. Out of hours, all calls go to an answering machine. However, we decided we needed a better arrangement for receiving calls when the Bible School staff were going to be away.
So we investigated using a call centre in Christchurch. The more we looked, the better it seemed. The decision was made, scripts were prepared and the centre was engaged.
What happened next took us by surprise. Our response rate went up 70 per cent. We’d been missing a huge number of calls.
This was significant and showed how blind we had been to something so obvious. I ask myself, do we have the same lack of sight in other areas?
I think one of the challenges in our churches is “people blindness”. People can come into our church and we don’t really see them. They might be visitors who get missed by the welcome party. Or they could be members who attend irregularly or have stopped going to church. And very few seem to notice.
Often we spend our time with friends or are busy with Sabbath duties. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that. But are there those in our church who don’t fit into a friendship group? Those who don’t experience a sense of belonging or drop off our radar because we’re busy?
In a recent General Conference survey it was revealed that nearly half of those who had left the Church reported no-one had contacted them from their local church. It also showed nearly 60 per cent would likely return if invited. Another piece of research shows the best retention strategy is relational—having at least six meaningful friendships.
With our Bible School we were blind to how many we were missing. I wonder what else is being missed.
Pastor Brad Kemp is president of the New Zealand Pacific Union Conference.