7 Ways to Increase Loyalty

7 Ways to Increase Loyalty

                    Our dog, JayD. Most loyal dog. Ever.

I like to think of myself as being loyal. I always buy Trident Bubblegum (don’t judge). I still watch Grey’s Anatomy – 13 seasons and counting (I’m serious, don’t judge). And, I continue to read a real newspaper…not the computer kind (you can pat me on the back). Oh, and I love my friends fiercely and still keep in touch my oldest friend, Paul, who I met in third grade Sunday School at Glendora UMC.
Like many of you, I love my church too. Since moving to Oregon, I’ve been with the same church for the past 25 years – through some pretty trying times, I might add. Our society holds loyalty as a good thing. But loyalty has to be earned. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s an emotional investment.
Of late, mainline churches haven’t done so well with loyalty.
According to the Pew Research Center, by 2014 there were five million fewer Protestant adults than in 2007. The median age (52) is older than any other major religious tradition. Egads. And that was three years ago.
Here’s more sobering news from Pew: “Mainline Protestants have one of the lowest retention rates of any major religious tradition, with only 45% of those raised in the faith continuing to identify with it as adults. Young adults are particularly unlikely to stay with mainline churches – just 37% of Millennials who were raised in the mainline tradition still identify with mainline Protestantism.”

Now take a deep breath…It’s going to be OK. But you may need to start doing some things differently.
The development field has lots of helpful insights because non-profits always want to retain their donors. Loyal constituents feel good about giving. And that’s a good thing. In his book Retention Fundraising, Roger Craver suggests “seven key drivers of donor commitment” or in my words, “seven ways to increase loyalty.” I’ve inserted “people in the pews” for “donor” and added questions in the parenthesis:
1. People in the pews perceive your church or faith community to be effective in trying to achieve its mission. (Do you know what your mission is?)
2. People in the pews know what to expect from your church or faith community with each interaction. (Will people say you’re friendly and welcoming? Will they experience the Spirit of God? Will they hear about community needs and/or justice issues?)
3. People in the pews receive timely thank-yous. (Are you thanking people at least quarterly? What other opportunities are you taking to express gratitude?)
4. People in the pews receive opportunities to make their views known. (When was the last time you held a “listening session”?)
5. People in the pews are given the feeling that they are part of an important cause. (How do people know they are involved in something that’s bigger than them? Are you telling them? Are they experiencing it?)
6. People in the pews feel their involvement is appreciated. (Repeat question: What opportunities are you taking to express gratitude?)
7. People in the pews receive information showing who is being helped. (Are you telling your story in your newsletter? E-mail blasts? Facebook? From the pulpit?)
Let this be a jumping off point. Take these seven “drivers” and ask your Leadership or Administrative Council to rate where your faith community or congregation is doing great and where you might need a little work. These days, loyalty doesn’t just happen but – because we are a people of faith – the road to loyalty can be a joy and Spirit-filled one. And, if you start giving out Ben and Jerry’s ice cream just before the service...
Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She loyally reads “Baby Blues,” “Zits,” and “Pickles.” She was the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. She is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.