(This message was originally published on March 27, 2014) Like many of you, I too have several books on small groups, Sunday School, and Bible study groups in church. Even, though we know the importance of connecting people in churches, I want to point you to a resource I read the other day: Transformational Groups (Ed Stetzer and Eric Geiger).
Overall, the book serves as a good reminder and useful resource of principles/ideas for developing groups in our churches. It is an easy read, easy to highlight, and you can pass along the ideas to those in your church.
Here are Five Ways a Church Can Connect with the Disconnected: (from: Transformational Groups)
1) Take advantage of the three-minute rule. Focus on reaching out to peoplewhom you do not know or appear to be disconnected for the first three minutes after/before the church service or activity. Be friendly and invite them to attend your group with you.
2) Make yourself available to people before and after worship services in the lobby areas of the church. Greet and reach out to those who appear to lack connections at church.
3) Know where groups meet and also provide a group information 'concierge' in a prime location. Have some person and place to provide information on groups.
4) Invite people to a basic newcomers' class or gathering. Providing a 'next step' opportunity for those attending is a way to also find out who needs and may desire connecting.
5) Follow-up. When in seminary in the 1990's, I read how Ken Hemphill and First Baptist Norfolk did follow-up on guests who attended church. Call it old school, but we basically followed a similar protocol when I was planting a church and it works well. Here is a sample for follow-up protocol:
- Contact guests that Sunday night and thank them for visiting.
- You can also have a team that actually delivers a gift bag to first time guests the very same Sunday. We did this and people were amazed that we took their attending that seriously (and quickly).
- On Monday, the church sends out a letter thanking them and giving some helpful information.
- Midweek, the pastor can send a hand written card to the guests.
- Have a group leader contact them later in the week and invite the following Sunday.
I'm sure there are many other ideas and strategies that work very well. I just wanted to take a moment to highlight this book that I read the other day on groups and to encourage you in the work of helping connect people in church.
Many people living across the Commonwealth of Virginia need a church home. They need the gospel. They need a family. They need a mission. They need Christ and His church! You are empowered by His Spirit for this work. Be strong and courageous...