The basis of this article, like the previous one, was taken from an article on church growth by Nick Batzig in The Christward Collective, February 26, 2015. There is always the temptation to throw away or ignore the methods of bygone years and look for new ways to grow, but often the successful strategies of the past are the key to future growth. The strategies explained in this two-part series are proven and worthy of being implemented. The first four, by way of review, are:
1. Regularly pray for a set number of new families and individuals. With the expectation that the fervent prayer of the righteous can accomplish much (James 5:16-17), the focused prayer for growth then becomes the basis for planning and efforts. It demonstrates reliance upon the Lord for growth (1 Cor. 3:6) and a personal commitment to Great Commission commandments (Mt. 28:18-20). This should become a constant strategy to be repeated with each success.
2. Intentionally sit by someone that you don’t know. This is probably the least utilized and yet most strategic step that can be taken to become a welcoming church. When we sit next to visitors, we can explain what is happening, demonstrate worship by example, and find ways to help them. It isn’t a comfortable strategy because it takes us out of our comfort zones, but it is a logical extension of the prayer of faith that we are praying.
3. Go out of your way to talk with someone you have not yet met. Visitors are not going to be impressed by the song service or the sermon, but they will be impressed by what happened or didn’t happen to them when they made themselves vulnerable in coming to worship with us. Purposefully speaking to them leaves a deep and favorable impression that can only be bested by the negative impression, “No one spoke to me at all.”
4. When you meet a visitor, introduce them to others in the congregation who may have common interests. This takes some thoughtful effort, but it is so important. We have school teachers, realtors, and doctors. We have families of the same age, singles of the same age, and people with the same interests.
5. Allow the greeting team to do its work. It is easy to get caught up in conversation with those who serve on the greeting team. Because they are the first people you see when you walk in the church building, it almost seems rude to greet them and go on. But they are there to identify and assist visitors and to get their contact information. The greeting team needs to be alert to new families that are coming for the first or second time. They should be free to focus on these families and individuals. They need to be free to take a family to places in the church like the nursery or children’s Sunday school classes. If the members of the church are standing by them and talking to them, they may be inadvertently keeping them from being most effective in welcoming visitors.
6. Be prepared to invite a visiting family or individual to your home for lunch. Plan ahead and get in the practice of having a meal ready for visiting guests. Then, seek out visitors after the service. You will find that almost anyone visiting will jump at the invitation to come to your home for lunch. If no one is visiting on that particular Sunday and you have a meal prepared for you and another family, invite a family in the church over. This fosters a spirit of outward-focused hospitality and congregational fellowship. This is a win-win.
7. Make Use of Social Media. It takes two seconds to ask someone if they are on Facebook. Finding a visitor on Facebook and adding them is a great way to make them feel welcomed. Almost no one who visits us here for the first time uses a phone book to find us. They use the internet to find us. We should use the internet to encourage them. They’re already comfortable with the concept.
Keep studying and keep serving! DC Brown ©2016