• (314) 428-2600

Caring for Inactive Members: How to Make God’s House a Home

The Purpose of This Course

Throughout our lives, we may encounter friends, relatives, neighbors, and work associates who have drifted away from their faith community, people who no longer attend worship or participate in church activities. We want to reach out to them and bring them back—but we’re not always sure how.

Caring for Inactive Members: How to Make God’s House a Home equips participants to relate to inactive members in respectful, kind, and gentle ways that convey the love of Christ.

In this course, participants build understanding as they learn:

  • what most often causes people to withdraw from the church

  • what not to say and do—what can drive people even farther away from the church

  • how our attitudes affect the way we relate to inactive members

  • how to balance their role and God’s role as they reach out to inactive members

  • how to prevent inactivity in the first place

  • how to welcome inactive members back home

They also build skill and confidence as they learn and practice:

  • how to listen effectively to inactive members

  • how to handle other people’s anger

  • what to say and do during intentional visits and chance encounters with inactive members

What People Are Saying about Caring for Inactive Members

Read what pastors and lay leaders are saying.

“This course took a feared and dreaded job and turned it into an exciting and fulfilling ministry!”

“People who were hesitant about visiting inactive members are now doing it confidently.”

“We’re now more careful in how we relate, not only to inactive members but also to visitors—those whose relationship to the church is unknown to us.”

“The course convinced us of the urgent need to reach out to inactive members and then showed us how to do it.”

“We learned that what we sometimes casually say to inactive members can really hurt.”

“The emphasis on how to retain people caused us to look more closely at how well we care for those who are hurting and in need.”

Read what course participants are saying.

“I wanted to reach out to people who stopped coming to church—but I was afraid I’d say or do the wrong thing. This course gave me the knowledge, skills, and confidence I needed.”

“We got what we needed to help us look beyond just inviting people back to church.”

“It was really helpful to have examples of situations that lead people to become inactive.”

“What was so valuable about this course for me is that it included guidance from people who had been inactive at one time. It showed me what is helpful and what is ineffective.”

“The stories of inactive members made it real and gave me a whole new way of looking at them.”

“I relate much better to my young adult children who haven’t been to church in years. No more arguing!”

“I came away with practical, faith-based skills for relating to inactive members.”

Course Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

How widespread is church inactivity?

In the average congregation, about one-third of all members are inactive.

How does this course address the issue of church inactivity?

The course presents a threefold approach to dealing with church inactivity:

  • preventing inactivity

  • relating to inactive members

  • welcoming home inactive members

What takes place during a class session?

Class sessions include:

  • opening prayer

  • several of the following learning activities

    brief presentations

    reflections from formerly inactive members

    sample dialogues


    small group exercises

    skill practicing

  • closing

What resources will I need? How can this course be conducted?

This course is flexible and can be conducted in several ways, including:

  • over six weeks, with 1 hour per session

  • over three weeks, with 2 ½ hours per session

  • over two half-day retreats

  • over one weekend retreat

Do you need special training to conduct this course?

No. The Leader’s Guide provides everything needed to successfully conduct this course. The materials are immediately usable and employ a variety of learning activities.

Who typically conducts this course?

A member of the church staff or a layperson with leadership skills can serve as the leader. The course is frequently taught by a team.

Who typically participates in this course?

Since nearly everyone encounters inactive church members, a church will receive the most benefit from having as many members as possible take part.

Some of the groups or teams that have participated include:

  • church staff

  • church governing boards

  • elders, deacons, and member-care teams

  • inactive member ministry teams

  • ushers and greeters

  • Sunday school teachers and Bible class instructors

  • youth ministry leadership teams

  • visitation teams

  • outreach or evangelism teams

How often should the course be offered?

Congregations benefit the most by offering this course on a regular basis. This makes the course available to more members—plus, it gives congregations the opportunity to equip new lay leaders and church staff with these skills as they begin their roles in the church.