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Lets Get Connected

Connecting pic

 

We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Our giftedness is partially by design (the way we are created) and partially developed (the skills we learn). We are born with certain talents given by God’s grace to everyone but we also receive spiritual gifts when we are born again. Particular personality types describing us as a lion, an otter, a golden retriever, or a beaver have also defined our uniqueness. You can learn more through tools such as DISC profile, Briggs-Myers, Strength Finders, and others.

Interestingly, as you look at these tools and observe people you begin to notice two primary types of people: relational and task. Usually there is a combination of the two in each of us but it is good to know if you are primarily relationship oriented or task oriented. Ask yourself if you naturally focus on the “whom” you are dealing with or the “what” that needs to be accomplished. Another way of analyzing your primary nature is asking if you enjoy “conversation” more or “completion” of the task.

The task-oriented individual, if not careful, can become a hostage to tangible things such as meetings, appointments, projects, schedules, and budgets. They want to make sure that every “i” is dotted and every “t’ is crossed. These people are doers and they will get the job done but the danger is they may not give proper priority to the intangibles. They can become so focused on the goal that they will walk right by people and not even notice they are there.

These (the task-oriented) are the lions (king of the jungle) and beavers (busy workers) that have been described as driven and competent. These are the Marthas who are busy in the kitchen wanting to make sure they are the consummate hostess to their guests. In all of their activity they can lose sight of the important relationships in their lives. The person who is primarily relational is all about the journey and the fun along the way while the task-oriented individual is all about getting to the destination, quickly!

We cannot forget that God is all about relationships. Yes, there are tasks that need to be done and accomplished but not at the expense of relationships.

Bill Hybels has defined community as:

  • knowing and being known
  • loving and being loved
  • serving and being served
  • celebrating and being celebrated.

People may come to a church for a lot of different reasons but they usually stay because they are loved.

In 1980, Win Arn spoke about a relational principle, “It takes six to stick!” He said that people must develop six meaningful relationships within six months if they are going to stick at the church. This is 2016 and people probably are not going to stay around that long waiting for relationships to develop.

Hal Seed, pastor of New Song in Oceanside, CA, expresses it this way, “Someone must recognize my face if this is going to be my place.”  Guests need to find at least one meaningful relationship in the first three weeks!

Assimilation is the system that follows up on your guests and it must include enough meaningful and personal touches for someone to remember your guests when they return. If you tell someone, “See you next week!” then you need to be looking out for him or her when they return.

Everyone loves to be remembered and as Hybels has said so well about community, “Knowing and being known!” There is nothing like going back and seeing a smiling welcoming face that you recognize and they recognize you!

This is why connection groups are so important to the health of your church. These are the small groups, Sunday School classes, Bible studies or other mechanism where people can get plugged into the life of the church. This is the circulation system of the church, which sustains the growth of new families when they come your way. Remember, it is systems that enable you to maintain and care for the people that come your way because of all the relational effort you have put into getting to know them.

Hal Seed describes three aspects on the importance and purpose of connection (small) groups.

  • First, from a practical standpoint, your small group system is your connecting system. That is why I love calling them “connection” groups. Their purpose is to “enfold people into meaningful relationships.” This gives everyone a group of people to do life with that they know are making the journey with them. It reminds us that we are not in this alone and we have others to do life and ministry with.
  • Second, from a spiritual growth standpoint, connection groups are your primary discipleship engine. Whatever structure you have, (time, day of the week, location, etc.) you will need to have clarity about how and what these groups study. There are several excellent resources (Small Groups with Purpose by Steve Gladden; Sticky Church by Larry Osborne; and others) on small groups that you could read and then adapt it to your ministry context and what works best for you.
  • Third, from a pragmatic standpoint, it can be your front line for crisis care. Growing churches struggle and pastors burn out when he is the primary (often the only) caregiver. Connection groups accept the responsibility of making sure they are the first responders to the needs of their group. Others can be called in but they have the pulse of those in the group and are usually the first to be notified when crisis hits anyone in their group. This adds to the definition of community: loving and being loved, serving and being served.

Healthy churches have a circulation system (connection groups) that clearly describes the path for new people to become connected to the church family!