The simple act of encouragement

By Sam S. Rainer III

Why do people return to church? One myth that could be easily dismissed is that they were too angry at the church to return. In fact, in one of our studies, the rechurched told us in overwhelming numbers that anger at the church was not a factor in their departures. Apathy tended to be the trump card over anger.

Surprisingly, the dechurched often just need a gentle nod to become the rechurched. And that gentle nod comes most often from friends and family. Nearly four out ten (39 percent) rechurched told us that parents or other family members were instrumental in their return to church. Another two out of ten (21 percent) said that they returned to church after friends or acquaintances encouraged them to attend.

Eliminating the overlapping responses, we find that exactly one-half (50 percent) of the rechurched are back in church because of the encouragement of a friend or family members. It is easy to pass by the previous sentence with little reaction, but it is a profound reality. The church loses about two-thirds of young adults between the ages of 18 and 22, but we can reclaim half of them with a simple act of encouragement from family and friends.

Sam S. Rainer III serves as president of Rainer Research (, a firm dedicated to providing answers for better church health. He also is the senior pastor at Stevens Street Baptist Church in Cookeville, TN. He writes, speaks, and consults on church health issues. You can connect with Sam at @samrainer or at his blog,


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