Faith Friday: Does Engagement Apply To Churches?

Note: By request of our blog readers, on Friday we answer reader-submitted questions from a faith perspective. If you’re not interested, no worries, just skip the post. To submit a question, you can post a comment or contact me.

We’ve written previously about employee engagement within the workplace. This reader wonders if the same principles apply to congregations: “What you’ve written about engagement…does it also apply to church members? What does engagement look like in a church?” That’s an excellent question and as a leader in a new church, a question that personally interests me.

I like to turn to Gallup for engagement questions because they’ve researched and reported on engagement for years. Gallup defines employee engagement as the measure to which employees are “involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace.”

What does engagement look like in a church? It would be nice if Gallup had something to say about church engagement.

Actually, it does! In the foreword of Growing An Engaged Church, George Gallup, Jr. wrote, “Ever since I entered the field of polling more than a half century ago, it has been my persistent desire to bring survey research to the cause of religion and faith communities by examining levels of religious belief, behavior, and knowledge among the American people.”

Gallup has been researching church engagement for years. Within the life of a congregation, Gallup defines engaged church members as, “members who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their church. They have a sense of belonging, are emotionally connected, and put the church top of mind.”

So regarding their church, engaged church members are:

  • Involved in
  • Enthusiastic about
  • Committed to
  • Feeling a sense of belonging
  • Emotionally connected
  • Putting the church top of mind

Engaged church members are excited about their church. They feel energized by the church’s mission and activities, have close personal connections with other church members, and are able to use their strengths and spiritual gifts within the church. In their thoughts and decision making, the church is top of mind. Engaged members feel cared for by leadership and can track their own spiritual growth as a result of the church.

I don’t know what the current church engagement percentage is, but when Reverend Al Winseman wrote Growing An Engaged Church ten years ago, church engagement was 29%. That means the above is true for three out of every ten people. And that means seven out of ten people are “disengaged” or “actively disengaged,” per Gallup.

That’s just not right.

Gallup has discovered that individual spiritual commitment—the level to which one is personally committed to their faith—is more than twice as high among engaged members. Furthermore, spiritual outcomes like life satisfaction, serving, giving, and inviting someone to church all increase when church engagement increases.

Just like workplaces can increase employee engagement, churches can increase member engagement. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

This is Jesus’ church; how will you help to build it? Consider church member engagement and how you can increase it in yourself and others.

If anyone is interested, we can talk on this in the future, just let me know.

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Chris believes you can love your work. He's the Vice President of Human Resources for EnergyCAP, Inc., where he helps employees to succeed. He's also a Certified Professional Life Coach and a Certified Gallup Strengths Coach. He loves to coach people, write, and speak around the topics of engagement, coaching, strengths, and growth. He blogs often at ChrisHeinz.com.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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