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Getting Connected

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How do you continue to attract people without giving in to the consumer culture of today? Maybe the bigger question is – “can you?” We want people to come and connect at a service or activity in order to hear the gospel. Many debate how far you should go to get people to come. The focus here is not what you do in order to get them to come but what you will do with them if they do come.

What will you do with everyone if they do show up? Every church must develop a process that turns consumers into contributors. You want them to come in and once they do, you want them to participate. In his book Fusion, Nelson Searcy addresses the challenges of turning first-time guests into fully-engaged members of your church. The problem is bigger than getting them there, because once you get them there will you be able to keep them coming? How will you help them get connected?

We hear a lot of talk about an assimilation system but what does that mean? Assimilate means to “take in and incorporate as one’s own.” Assimilation means practicing biblical hospitality. It is warmly welcoming those who visit our churches and showing them we would love for them to come again and consider attending regularly. How well are you assimilating people in your church from being first-time guests to being fully-engaged members?

In The Purpose-Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message and Mission, Rick Warren speaks of how you want to move people from the outer circle (low commitment/low spiritual maturity) to the inner circle (high commitment/high spiritual maturity). The goal is to always be moving people to a deeper level of commitment from community to crowd, from crowd to congregation, from congregation to committed, and from committed to the core.

There has been an unwritten system in some churches that first you must believe and only then you can belong. Once you belong long enough then you can be blessed by how the church will help you. What if we reversed this order? What is we blessed people so that they wanted to belong because we demonstrated the love of God to them? What if we allowed them to hang out and feel like a part of our fellowship even before they believed?

  • First, have entry level roles! Find places for them to serve and help. Think about what kind of roles people can help in even before they are members. People want to be involved and volunteerism is at an all time high.
  • Second, ask them personally to help! In a recent survey people were asked why they didn’t help at the church. Their response was shocking, “No one ever asked us!” It is not enough to have it in the bulletin or announce it from the platform.
  • Third, build a servant-leader culture! Make sure that everyone understands that no one leads who does not first serve. Make everyone start at the same place and work up from there. Some will move up faster but this protects you from preferential treatment.
  • Fourth, give projects before you give anyone a position! This is closely connected to number four and the key is to always think small first. See if they handle a small project before giving them more.
  • Fifth, develop a first serve ministry! Give people the opportunity to try different ministries. Let them “kick the tires” to see if a particular ministry is where they would like to continue serving. Assign them to assist someone they can follow around and show them the ropes.
  • Sixth, have a core value of every member serving in a ministry! You must track progress and make sure everyone is serving in some role and contributing to the ministry of the church.
  • Seventh, celebrate those who are serving on the campus and off the campus! You certainly want to have the necessary roles filled for effective ministry but as you grow there will not be enough positions for everyone. There will be those who are led to volunteer in ministries or start ministries that serve in the community. That is a good thing and we should be excited about the church getting outside the four walls of the building.

In building an assimilation system here are a couple more things to think about. Build a chain of command where everyone knows who is in charge and with whom they need to stay in contact. Also, when someone has signed up to serve and they cannot make it train them to realize that it is their responsibility to fill their role. No one should be responsible for having to find several replacements at the last moment. Entry level does not mean no responsibility.

Healthy churches are always striving to get better at figuring out how to develop the best system possible to move consumers to becoming contributors!