Make Exits Helpful and Not Awkward

exit sign by door

We do not want to think about members leaving the church. But we must admit that it happens. Sometimes they just want to switch churches. Other times they are leaving their faith behind. Regardless of the situation, we should provide an easy way for them to exit. This article explores how to create an easy and accurate method for members to leave your church.

The lesson here is pretty simple. Create a landing page that allows your church members to let you know they no longer want to be a part of your church. The most sensitive part here is the amount of information you ask for. Make it clear to church leadership that there is a difference between what you need, and what you want.

Confirm Identity

The first step is to identify who the member is. How you do this depends on the information you need to become a member at your church. The bigger problem is that personal information often changes. This will be very likely if there are active duty military in your church. We must accept that most members do not think to update phone numbers and addresses with their church. Members may also change, or lose access to email addresses. This is especially true for emails tied to their Internet Service Provider. The only remaining identifier is a name. So use those other fields, but know there may be some discrepancies in that member’s profile. In the end, a manual confirmation may be necessary. This of course should be handled with the utmost of discretion.

Confirm Scope

Of course you can have members with the same name. You can narrow down to determine that one person that is leaving. But at times, an entire family may be departing. Hopefully your membership system has the ability to group family members. If not, at least provide a mechanism to add more family member names on your exit form. This way one person, like a parent, can remove their entire family.

Digital Subscriptions

As part of your exit process, make it easy to sever digital ties. Allow them to check a box to unsubscribe from any mailing lists you control. This could mean newsletters, devotionals, or sermon summaries. Yet some members may be leaving because they are moving away. They may still want to get some of your content. I would suggest offering segments of content. Allow them to find out about sermons, but not church news. Or provide links to outlets to subscribe to content on other platforms. Some good examples of this are your video channel on YouTube, and audio podcast on iTunes. Regardless, always provide a way for them to break off all communication from your church.

Offline Verification

The digital process should be an easy one. Yet you may want to follow up in person, or a not-digital means such as a phone call. While it is not likely that a user would impersonate someone else, it might be possible. Give a list of those people that recently left to your pastor. They may want to chat if they see them at a future service. Then remember to follow up with your pastor. See if any digital services contributed to someone’s departure. You might discover some ideas for future improvements.

Action Item

A difficult entry process may dissuade a member from joining. Yet, an easy exit process will not encourage someone to leave. Reassure you members that you respect them regardless of their membership status. Their time is valuable, plus you do not want digital products to annoy them. These projects may not be your first priority. But keep them in mind as people do leave churches for many reasons. Help make that transition as easy as possible.

Photo courtesy of Merzrec D.

Author: Stephen Morrissey

I have been making websites since 1996, and using social media since 2006. My current profession is designing user experiences for corporate software, websites, and mobile applications. I started sharing my knowledge with the world in 2011, about a year after a revival in my faith.