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They Came – Now What

Next Steps

 

What do you do if everyone you invited shows up? How do you handle the extra people who do attend? Once they are greeted do you have a system in place to help them come a second and third time? Do you have a plan to help them connect and become fully engaged with the church? There are several things to consider as you evaluate your assimilation process of practicing biblical hospitality!

First, how do you treat the occasional attenders? Faithfulness is not defined these days as it was in times past. Many people see once a month or twice a month as being faithful. This does not mean the “new” faithfulness to church is correct but we must face the reality of our current culture. Split families can mean certain people only attend every other Sunday. People now have to work 24/7 and Sunday no longer is seen as the Lord’s Day.

If you treat those who attend sporadically as “second-class” members they will not respond well. If you try to guilt them into becoming more faithful it will not work on this generation. Do you feel guilty for not attending the synagogue on Saturdays? Do you feel guilty for not faithfully going to a Buddhist temple? Of course not, and if they were not raised in a church culture, neither do they. Make sure that everyone knows how glad you are that they are there and you want to help their spiritual walk.

Second, what is your ultimate goal for someone coming? Our mission is not to fill up seats on Sunday mornings but rather to lead people to Christ. Does that mean we do not want to see as many attending as possible? Of course not, but it does mean that church is bigger than Sunday mornings and mere attendance is never the goal. We are not using people to build our church but, rather, using our church to build up people. We believe that someone who becomes fully engaged with the local church will be better off five years from now!

Jesus told the parable of how the Master told His servants to go out and invite so that His house would be full. We have the life-giving truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and should be passionate about sharing it with everyone we can. We encourage people to invite their family and friends but what about their enemies? The gospel is all about reconciliation and Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

Third, be focused on connecting people to a small group. Whether it is a Sunday School class, men/ladies Bible study, discipleship class or any other type of small group they need to know how to get connected. In Lasting Impact, Carey Nieuwhof says, “A church that organizes everything around small groups will always be more effective than a church that does not.” The healthiest followers of Christ are those who are serving others, living their faith out, and connected to a small group.

Every person who attends needs a role and a relationship in order to feel that they are cared for and truly a part of the church. They need a role! This is their specific place of service. How will you connect them to a ministry where they can use their spiritual gifts? Do you have a way they can try different ministries and places of service so they can determine if it is a fit or not? They also need a relationship! This is their specific connection with a group who will care for them and love them more intimately!

Fourth, realize the importance of small group leaders! They hold one of the most important positions in your ministry because they give direct pastoral care. They are your first responders to the needs of those attending. They are the first to pray with them, cry with them, encourage them, walk with them, counsel and advise them. Here is one definition of a small group leader. “To help 3-10 (you determine the number) people learn Biblical truth and experience God while developing relationships with Christ, you, and other people.”

Think of it like this and scale the following numbers to your scenario. If you have 200 people attending you will need 40 small group leaders to help care for them. Then you will need ten leaders of leaders and two directors who will lead the leaders of the leaders. The ten are coaches of the small group leaders to make sure they are receiving the same care they are giving to those in their group. The coach (ten) cares for the leader (40) who cares for the people (200).

When my son, Matthew, did an internship at Oasis Church in North Little Rock it was wonderful to see how all of the small group leaders went to him and invited he and his wife, Allison, to join their group. He was immediately shown there was a way to engage and become connected. He was so encouraged by how many let him know they would love for him to be a part of their group. He felt like he was being “recruited” and he was!

Allow me to ask it again. What are you going to do if everyone you invite shows up and how will you try to connect them to a group that will care for them and love them?