We’ve heard a lot about “quiet quitting.”
It’s the term given to a new, unhealthy workplace reality. Rather than leaving jobs, people en mass are remaining in their position but not giving much (if any) effort.
Recent research by Gallup suggests “‘Quiet quitters’ make up at least 50% of the U.S. workforce — probably more.”
I’m afraid these “quiet quitters” aren’t just quitting at work. Perhaps they are behaving similarly at home. Or at CHURCH.
Could this explain some (or much) of what we are experiencing in our churches today?
NOTE: If you’re a church or organizational leader, this post on quiet quitting at work may help: Are People On Your Team “Quiet Quitting?”
Why are people “quiet quitting” church?
I assume there are various reasons we’re experiencing quiet quitting. In the workplace, quiet quitting is a response to stress and burnout. What’s interesting is that in many cases (not all, but most likely many), it wasn’t their “work” that created stress and anxiety, but life. Quiet quitting is a trauma response. Can you think of any significant traumas we’ve collectively experienced in the past few years?
Aren’t we all living out some trauma response today? There was the pandemic, but that’s only one trauma. We experienced racial unrest trauma. Political trauma. And more. We all had things taken from us. We all experienced loss.
These traumas built on each other and were fueled by each other. During trauma or trauma recovery, we’re more susceptible to additional trauma. This explains much about our collective and individual experiences over the last few years.
We’re more tired. We’re more anxious. We’re more critical and skeptical. We’re operating with fewer emotional resources than we need. We’re experiencing a version of PTSD.
This trauma response is playing out in our church, too.
When our emotional reserves are depleted, our natural response demands we avoid places, people, and situations that require emotional engagement. Hence people quiet quit work. They couldn’t completely quit work, but they don’t have the emotional margin to fully engage.
And the same is happening at church.
Quiet quitting is significantly affecting your mission.
The mission of your church requires participation from the congregation. Every church mission is active, meaning it requires actions for success. Churches need their congregation to engage through serving, giving, and inviting. While not overly taxing, these activities feel overwhelming to those without emotional margin.
Think about it:
- Why is it so challenging to fill volunteer teams today?
- Why is small group participation not bouncing back quickly?
- Why is generosity more of a challenge?
- Why aren’t people inviting friends as frequently?
- Why aren’t your church people showing up?
- Why are people less energetic?
The core answer to the above questions is potentially connected to one thing: Quiet Quitting.
We have to address this mess, not just name it.
Recognizing the issue is only half the battle. What we do about it is what determines the future of our mission.
We could wait it out. That’s an option. I suspect waiting it out may mean your church eventually folds while other churches unwilling to wait step in.
Our better option is to step directly into the mess. What if you began to systematically address the lack of emotional margin? Not just to help your church mission succeed but to help people succeed.
There are several mechanisms you might consider.
- Preaching topics,
- Small group curriculum,
- Children and Student curriculum,
- And Incremental Commitment Options.
Working directly with dozens of churches in the past year, we’ve found success by adding more incremental opportunities with lower commitment requests.
Let’s take volunteering as an example.
In the past, we could ask a typical church attender to serve, and many would engage. Going from attending to serving wasn’t a leap. Most people attended more frequently and were willing to help and attend on a Sunday.
Those times seem like a lifetime ago, though. The “typical” attender today may attend in person once a month. Perhaps 1.5 times, but let’s not be too generous. Imagine the chasm between attending once a month to a weekly volunteer commitment. That’s not a step; that’s a Grand Canyon leap. Not to mention they aren’t likely to serve and attend on the same day.
What was once normal has become abnormal. There is good news: Quiet quitters can reengage, but it does require a different approach, one with many more incremental steps than in the past.
I recently shared a free video resource with all my current followers specifically addressing the volunteer movement in today’s church environment. You can access it in the “FREE RESOURCES” section here: GROW YOUR CHURCH RESOURCES ON gavinadams.com
Whether you’re trying to engage funding, volunteering, or any other version of involvement, people today need more incremental options with lower commitments. These incremental steps slowly engage people on a journey, which is our church mission. Discipleship is a journey. As a church, we are called to support people along their journey, which means adjusting and adapting as our community and culture change.
If you believe your mission isn’t maximized, try implementing more incremental steps that are easy, obvious, and achievable for people at every level of your church. For now, this is our best option for the quiet quitters among us.