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The Revolving Door
Membership Growth & Outreach, Membership in Congregations

A Story Using Ratio Decision Making

Here is a fictitious story about a congregation to give an illustration of making decisions using ratios. The figures in the ratios are derived from the membership data the congregation collects.

The Unitarian Universalist Church of C’s (UUCC's) membership has been flat for years. Even though they add 60 members per year, instead of steady growth the numbers change primarily when there is more or less vigorous attention to taking inactive members off the active list—caused, say some members, because the church has a “revolving door” of new members who do not stay and point to examples of members that have left. The membership chair is being strongly encouraged to implement higher standards for membership, and insure those who join get connected quickly.

Once UUCC looked at why members left, they discovered over half had moved, about a quarter had died, and the rest had lost interest—but when the number who had lost interest was expressed as a percent of the total membership, it was very low compared to other churches of like size. Most new members were leaving because it was a transient community—very few just became inactive, and that was often due to changes in their own lives that made the church less relevant for them. The simple fact is that the larger the church, the more new members are needed just to stay even. If UUCC wants to grow, it will likely make more progress by focusing on more new members. 

Let's look at another example of using ratios to make decisions.

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