A lot has been written lately about the definition of church growth. Granted, there is much more to the church growth equation than numbers. Growth can be spiritual as well. Growth can also be measured in the physical church property and finances. So, new convert births is but one area that must be evaluated. Yet another critical area of growth that is too often neglected: new convert care (NCC) retention.
A number of years ago an article appeared in the Pentecostal Herald entitled, “Nine Out of Ten Newborns Die!” by Irvin Baxter. Based upon research, Bro. Baxter found that approximately 90% of those baptized in Apostolic churches backslid soon after. Such a statistic grieves the heart of God. It is a verifiable fact that if a church will institute an aggressive new convert care ministry focusing upon instruction, fellowship and involvement, they can see their retention rates increase to over 50% in a given year.
Every church that has a desire to grow should know their annual new convert retention rate. Obtaining this number is easy. Most churches keep baptismal and/or Holy Ghost records to hand out certificates commemorating this life-changing event. So name, address and other pertinent information must be gathered to ensure effective follow-up and discipleship.
At the end of each year, go through these records and count how many conversions have taken place. Then separate these names into two categories: still attending and no longer attending. Divide the number still attending by total conversions, and you will have your retention rate for the year. For example, if you have had 48 conversions and 28 are still attending, 28 ÷ 48 = .58. So your retention rate that year is 58%. Granted, attendance is only one measure of spiritual maturity but still important.
Your annual NCC retention rate should remain above 50%. If it is less, consider improving your new convert care program. You should also know your biological growth rate (births vs. deaths) and transfer rate (move-in’s vs. move-out’s).
If you would like information on how to implement a comprehensive NCC ministry, call 1-800-800-0247. $5 plus postage.