Membership Exit Interviews

Green illuminated exit sign in a dark room

Membership committees may feel the need for feedback if there seems to be a "revolving door" of members joining and then leaving. It may be helpful to track the reasons why some members decide to leave using an exit interview.

After accounting for those who have died or have moved away, the membership committee may want to reach out to those who have resigned or drifted away.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is not recommended if there has been a recent congregational conflict that has resulted in membership resignations.

Here is some guidance:

Keep it Personal

As a beloved community, we want to approach one another as individuals who have inherent worth and dignity, not numbers or statistics that we are quantifying, even if we might be aggregating the information into numerical data for analysis.

Dear _____, I am reaching out because I heard you have left the congregation. Would you be willing schedule a brief call to talk a bit about your experiences?

Keep It Pastoral

This is an opportunity for the former member to tell their story. Listen without judgement or any motives of getting them to rejoin. Don't get defensive if they share complaints.

It's helpful for us leaders to learn what we are doing well and where we can improve.

Keep It Brief

Remember we are asking for the gift of time and attention of the former member. Ask a few brief questions, then leave an opening for the person to elaborate or to end the conversation.

Sample Questions:

  • What were your hopes when you joined the congregation?
  • What did you like about the congregation?
  • What do you wish had been different?
  • What made you decide to leave?
  • Is there anything else you want us to know?

Offer Options

If the former member isn't interested in a conversation, offer the option of replying to an email.

Quantifiying The Interview

After the interview, use a standard scale to quantify the information:

Sample Scale:

Exit Interview Scale

Reasons for Leaving

 Not a Factor 2 3 4 Strong Factor
Interpersonal Discomfort / Conflict     
Lack of Connection     
Available / Interesting Programming (Adult)     
Available / Interesting Programming (Children)     
Personal / Spiritual Fulfillment     

About the Author

Renee Ruchotzke

Rev. Renee Ruchotzke (ruh-HUT-skee) is a Congregational Life Consultant and program manager for Leadership Development.

For more information contact .