Three Essential Components Needed to Turning Passive Pew Sitters Into Engaged Mission-driven Members



As I have mentioned in previous posts, I began my ministry career in the Motor City, Detroit.  In a museum at Greenfield Village, Detroit, Michigan, there is a massive steam locomotive. Beside this complicated piece of machinery is a sign showing boiler pressure, size and number of wheels, horsepower, lengths, weight, and more. The bottom line shows that 96% of the power generated was used to move the locomotive and only 4% was left to pull the load. Some churches are like that; there are a large number of people in the body of Christ who are disengaged or only partially engaged. With these series of posts, I hope to provide insights to change faithful pew-sitters into engaged mission partners.

A good starting point for this series is identifying what the Factors Driving Engagement are.  Many studies have listed hundreds of components influencing engagement. However, according to a Dale Carnegie Active Research June 2017 report, the top three are 1) Pride in the organization, 2) Belief in the senior leadership, and 3) Satisfaction with the immediate manager.

How does this translate in the church and non-profit world?  I can see all these factors driving peace and engagement in our context.

1.     Pride in the organization.

Often in the Bible, pride is referenced negatively and sinfully.  Paul expresses his pride positively. I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.12 Corinthians 7:4.  I can recall times as a parish pastor that I was leery about bringing new fragile unbelievers into our fellowship because I was not sure how my people would receive them. Once our culture changed to be more welcoming, I could not have been prouder of the atmosphere God had created. When a member is excited about the ministry and the church they are attending, not only are they sharing and inviting others to come to see what God is doing; these members are often also engaged and aligned with the vision and direction of the leadership.  There is a direct correlation between engagement, clear ministry direction, and vision.

2.     Trust in Leadership

“To be a leader a man must have followers. And to have followers, a man must have their confidence. Hence the supreme quality of a leader is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, on a football field, in an army, or in an office. If a man’s associates find him guilty of phoniness, if they see he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail. His teachings and actions must square with each other. The first great need, therefore, is integrity and high purpose.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bits & Pieces, September 15, 1994, p. 4.

The Bible clarifies that leaders in the church must have unquestionable integrity.  It is vital in business but a prerequisite in the church.

 2Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,3not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.4He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive.  1 Timothy 3:2-4

Members are far more willing to serve when they trust and respect their leaders.

3.     Relationship with Ministry co-workers.

“The more I get to know people, the more I love my dog.” – Frederick the Great.

One of the most critical lessons I try to impart to congregations is that your elected leaders, the heads of your committees, and ministry leaders are critical to the success of your ministry engagement level.  If those (for lack of a better term), middle managers are not people who others desire to work alongside, you will have a difficult time recruiting and keeping volunteers.    You may have an awesome pastor, but if the people working more closely with the members are not highly relational, inspiring, enthusiastic, and empower volunteers, but sit on the sidelines and watch the show rather than be engaged and willing participants, no one will follow.

Next week more practical ways to further engage the wealth of talent sitting in your church pews.

As always if you find this post helpful you are encouraged to share it.

In the Service of an Awesome God

1The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 7:4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


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2 Comments on “Three Essential Components Needed to Turning Passive Pew Sitters Into Engaged Mission-driven Members

  1. Looking forward to the series. Dan, Alan, and I were just talking about “pew sitters.” Holly


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