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Engaging When Disconnected

One of the greatest challenges today is how to stay engaged at such a disengaged and disconnected time.  There is so much more to this than how well you are utilizing social media, phone calls, email, and other tools to stay connected with your church family.  It is making sure that you are going a few layers deeper and connecting with one another on a relational level.  The goal is not how many likes you are getting on Facebook live or how many thumbs up you are receiving while live streaming.  How many people are you actually engaging with?   

One of our staff recently called a Christian distributor, Lifeway, and asked about an order our church had placed for resources.  If you have not heard there has been a disruption and delay on many things.  After discussing our order with the customer service representative he asked him, “Is there anything I can pray for you about?”  The man began to weep and said no one had ever asked him that before. Wow, he works for a Christian company and usually talks with Christians, yet, no one had ever asked him how they could pray with him.  How can that actually be?

The word “engage” means to occupy the attention or efforts of someone else.  It requires that the person you are engaging with has your full attention.  It is not a casual greeting and then quickly moving to another person and another greeting.  You are connecting with them to see how they are doing and you genuinely want to know how you can help them and minister to them.  Consider asking three questions in order to connect at a little deeper level.  Each of these questions helps to peel the layers off and engages the person by showing that they have your full attention. 

First, ask them how they are doing.  Actually, this can be a very standard question that many people realize, at face value, is just a question and you really don’t care about the answer.  The key here is to ask it and wait on an answer.  Many will give the standard, status quo response, “Fine!”  Second, ask them if there is anything you can do for them or any way you can help them.  What service could you provide or errand could you run?  Third, ask how you can pray for them.  Do not make the mistake of NOT praying for them right then.  Stop and pray!

Here are some ideas from churches of what they are doing to remain engaged and connected during this disconnected time.  One church in Oklahoma utilized Zoom to enjoy dinner together.  They all prepared their meals at home, sat down to enjoy the meal and then joined the group they had eaten out with many times before.  Imagine the laughter and engagement that occurred through this extra effort to facilitate a time of fellowship within the family of God.  What might you be able to do to connect and engage different groups in your church?

Another church shared how they opened up Zoom, at a prescheduled time, as a venue for different people to get on just to say hi and see one another.  It is almost like how you use your foyer at church where you first engage one another on Sunday mornings.  Engagement is not only looking at a screen while someone preaches at you or teaches a Bible study.  Those times are very important but you should consider how you can facilitate a time where people can see one another and speak to one another.  Remember, one of the big five in Acts 2 is fellowship.

StonePoint church in Cumming, GA shared how they would drive by another member’s house and text them that they were outside in front of the house.  Then you could either come to the window, the door, or step outside to wave and see one another in person.  Yes, you need to follow wise social distancing practices because you care about not endangering someone else, but there are ways you can engage one another on a deeper level than only posting a word of encouragement and/or bible study.  Once again it is not an either or but a both and engagement.

StonePoint also engages people by watching their feed and responding to those who are watching.  It is a great tool for assimilating those who are connecting virtually on how the viewers can take the next steps if they are interested.  They also utilize this tool to take attendance.  It is not so they can count how many they have but so that they can follow-up on those who are becoming more distant and disconnected during this difficult time.  A church in AR also does this and people have reached out wanting more information.              

Please do not forget about phone calls, hand written letters, and cards to engage your people.  Take the time to call and engage in conversation and get others to help.  These times are very draining and very depressing to many.  People need hope and encouragement more than ever.  They need to know that they are not alone and that you are there to love them and your church desires to continue shepherding them. You just might come out of this more connected than you were.