Recently General Synod spent a good deal of time debating Evangelism – and what is not to like? Well, a number of people were concerned that what was meant was too focused on getting the initial sale and not enough on repeat business (my words). So here and here.
In any sales process there is a funnel – lots of people get fed in at the top but only a few become customers.
I used to work in a business which was looking for repeat customers. It wasn’t a supermarket, but that is a good example. The reason that supermarkets, and online ones in particular, are so keen to get you to buy from them is the potential for repeat business. There are all sorts of incentives to buy from them again, from the explicit (money off vouchers on future purchases) to the implicit (you know your way round the physical or online store).
1.2 million people have done an Alpha course in the UK, but average Sunday attendance is about 722,000. This isn’t knocking Alpha courses; we have the same problem in this parish – people come to a seekers course but drop off at varying stages through the process.
Most of the emphasis on Evangelism appears to be on getting people in the first place. I would want to suggest that increasing the retention rate would be a better area of focus. Something is drawing people in and they become enthusiastic, but they do not stay that way.
What is needed is a successful Beta course (there have been a number of attempts, some even called Beta Course!), but this appears to be a difficult nut to crack as they have existed for 15 years or more, but haven’t had the traction of Alpha.
What seems to me to be successful are the relationships built, but if you are running lots of the courses you need lots of people to build relationships – almost in an apprenticeship style. Recruiting lots of apprentices when you don’t have the master craftsworkers to train them is surely a waste of time?