Monday, November 12, 2012

Adult Ministry Principle 4: Build a Bridge to Somewhere!

Is your church building a "bridge to somewhere" with the lost, or is yours a "bridge to nowhere?"

Adult ministry can build an effective bridge to the lost and others who come in contact with your church. Here are some keys for building an effective relationship bridge:

  1. Raise Awareness. Help your church understand who the lost and unchurched are in your community. Guide them to see the fields that are "ready for the harvest." Data can be your best friend. Help the church understand the demographics of your community.
  2. Teach methods of sharing your faith. Relational, formal, and missional are all valid methodologies. All are important. We must know how to share, when to share, and with whom to share. We need to help people know about Christ, not just about our church. If you don't teach adults to build bridges, they won't! You have to model it in the way you interact with the lost. Consider using some of these resources to help: Outreach Teams that Win; Discover More to Life; The Rooftop: A Crisis of Opportunity; Faith Evangelism; Eternal Life Witnessing Booklet; Share Jesus Without Fear; Evangelism Explosion Resources; NavPress Evangelism Resources. As you can see, Christendom is not short of evangelism resources; it is just short of laborers! You might even want to search periodically for trainers of evangelism on the 4:12 Network to see who might be available to train your church!
  3. Emphasize a culture of expectancy. Teach adults to expect the lost and other unchurched adults in their groups and at events. Be intentional about registering guests; make it very simple, and enlist and train greeters. Train your "hub" groups to expect and prepare for guests by providing seating, greeting, and name tags for everyone. Here are some resources that might help you: First Impressions: Creating Wow Experiences in your ChurchBeyond the First Visit.
  4. Set up a system of follow-up. Immediate and ongoing follow-up is vital. I still believe in and practice personal visitation. There is a follow-up standard I also practice. That includes at least seven types of follow-up over a four to seven week time period. The elements include: a "thank-you" follow up visit by a church leader; a letter from the pastor; an email from the church that includes links to any web-site or social media venues; a visit, email, and phone call from the assigned small or Sunday School group. Remember, connect every guest with your "hub." (See Adult Ministry Principle 2)
There are no "accidents" on this relationship bridge. A sovereign God orchestrates every encounter we have with others, whether it be a neighbor, someone in a store, a friend at work, or someone who visits our church or small group. We must be good stewards of the relationship God has placed in our path.

Until someone posts a "bridge closed" sign on the relationship bridge, we must continue to move forward, hopefully building a relationship that leads to somewhere--salvation and church membership! The Great Commandment describes it, The Great Commission demands it!