One aspect of a church’s personality is what some would call the “churn rate.” According to Churchtrac, congregations typically see an annual turnover rate between 10 and 15% (ChurchTrac). People come and go for a variety of reasons including jobs, family, retirement, worship style preferences, etc. Our church is no different. Westchester County is not always conducive for young families who want to buy a home or senior citizens who plan to retire. The New York metropolitan area attracts people from around the country and around the world who come for a span of time and then move on.
While attrition is a reality we’ve had to live with, it doesn’t negate the sadness and pain experienced when it occurs. Even more so with families like the Polimenos. They have been solid and faithful contributors to the ministry here for the last two decades. Rob has served as an Elder, been on the Search Committee, has been actively involved in children’s ministry and has been an integral part of our Community Groups with his infamous Prayer Journal. Jen has been on Missions Trips, served on the Missions Committee, supported the Senior Luncheon, organized lawn sales, and has faithfully “paid the bills” as treasurer for the last 4 – 5 years.
But what is most impressive about Rob and Jen is their ability to balance an active family life, busy work schedules, plus service to their community and still find time for church activities. They have raised three lovely children who have also been involved in ministry. Many families tend to put serving in church on the “back burner.” But they have modeled the importance of being Christian servants both inside and outside the walls of the physical church building.
So, how should a small church like ours deal with the inevitable reality of member turnover? John 13:35 says, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” We commit to each because we’re commanded to love one another. Time is short. Often, obedience to God’s command means taking a relational risk. It hurts to see people you grow to love, move away. But it’s within the safe walls of commitment where relationships flourish. The crucial point is this. The Polimeno’s aren’t leaving our hearts, they are just leaving the area. As Rob put it, it’s just “goodbye for now” until we see them again.
Doug Morton, Elder
For more insights on coping with the churn see…