The Mediating role of disciple-making process in the relationship of transformational leadership behavior, church ministry programs and church membership retention
The church needs to grow to accomplish its mission. In the past 14 years, the churches at East Indonesia Union Conference (EIUC) have added 56,984 members through baptism and profession of faith. However, 23,106 members have dropped out or have been missing in that duration of time. It appears that there is a need to determine the factors that contribute in the retention of members at EIUC. To approach the issue of church retention, a theory emerges indicating that church ministry program (CMP) and transformational leadership behavior (TLB), with the mediation of disciple-making process (DMP), can explain church membership retention (CMR). This theory is tested in this study. This study employed a correlation method with Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). The study used a self-designed questionnaire validated by the panel of experts and piloted to determine their reliability. Using convenience sampling, the 525 respondents were chosen to represent the members of EIUC churches. The study determined the perceptions of the respondents on the extent of CMP, TLB, DMP and CMR dimensions. The predictive variables were also considered to determine the contribution of CMP, TLB, DMP, and demographic variables to CMR. Lastly, the mediating role of DMP was taken to establish the model for CMR using SEM. Using descriptive statistics, the results show that CMP, TLB, and DMP are very highly practiced while CMR has very high retention. However, some dimensions in some variables have a lower rating such as individual consideration for CMP, involving for TLB, and behavior for DMP. Using Pearson’s correlation, the result shows a positive and significant relationship among CMP, TLB, DMP, and CMR. Using multiple regression analysis, the result shows that CMP (evangelism, worship service, and fellowship), TLB (inspirational motivation and intellectual stimulation), DMP (calling, integrating, equipping, and involving), and demographic variables (members’ involvement and their number of friends) help predict or explain the variance in CMR. Using SEM, the result shows that DMP significantly and positively mediate the relationship of CMP and TLB to CMR. To implement the CMR model, an integrated membership retention program (IMRP) is developed as a proposal to the context of EIUC. IMRP uses the variables in CMP, TLB, DMP, and CMR to guide in the design and implementation of the program. Biblical-theological, theoretical, and contextual principles are also incorporated to make the program responsive to the needs of the church leaders and members. On the basis of the foundation of IMRP, the different needs of church members can be met, thereby addressing if not eliminating the challenges in church retention issues at EIUC.