Monday, June 30, 2014

Connecting People and Wiring for Electricity

Recently I built an addition onto my storage facility, and I needed it wired for electricity. There was only one problem--there wasn't any main power run to the building. I decided to go ahead and wire the shed anyway, in hopes that, one day, I could run a permanent power line.  Until then I would just use an extension cord.  I realized through this experience that connecting people and wiring for electricity is very similar.

4 Things I Learned

We have to prepare for unchurched adults who will visit our church. When wiring the building, I tried to imagine what plugs and lights I would need and where they should be located.  When connecting to the unchurched, imagine a process that  (1) creates a welcoming atmosphere; (2) captures information that will enable your open groups to make follow-up contacts; (3) is not intrusive—it doesn’t make the guest feel uncomfortable.  Evaluate the flow patterns in your facility to see if guests can find their way to the auditorium, classrooms, childcare, and restrooms.  Determine who needs to help with the process—greeters, hosts, class greeters, and so forth.   Provide convenient and marked parking and opportunities for guests to be greeted—consider stationing greeters in the parking lot, entry way, auditorium, and classes.

Determine ways to keep a permanent connection with the unchurched. Remember the extension cord to my storage building?  I needed a more permanent connection.  What are the permanent connections that help us connect to the unchurched?
Practice the simple act of inviting.
Yes, we do need to teach adults to share the gospel—that is our ultimate goal. But begin by helpings adults to simply ask, “Will you come with me to Bible Study or worship?”  
Capitalize on existing opportunities.
These opportunities might be parents who are discovered through Vacation Bible School, unchurched adults who attend a men’s or women’s event, or adults who are discovered through a local mission project.  Make a list and develop a plan for adult Bible study groups to make follow-up contacts. 
Teach adults that every activity (sports, school, work, community, and so forth) connects them to adults who need an invitation.
You need one primary connection. My storage building only needed one main line in order for the entire building to have power. There needs to be one central place that will provide a continuing connection to the unchurched.  The open group, whether it be Sunday School or some other on-going open group, is this main connecting point for building ongoing relationships with the unchurched.  This relationship hopefully will lead adults to connect with the Lord, to grow spiritually, and to connect with other ministries of the church. Determine how you will route all unchurched adults through your open group for follow-up and relationship development.

We have to experiment and try again.  I ran permanent wire to the storage building and everything worked until I turned on the air compressor; then the power line couldn't handle the load. As you watch your church connect with the unchurched you will discover places that aren’t working correctly.  Adjust the process, add a new Bible study group, or do whatever is needed in order to make the connection work properly.

As you think about connecting people, consider using leaders from the 4:12 Network. Consider searching for leaders who have a ministry focus of "Church Development - Guest Ministry" or  checkout some resources like:
Do you know of other resources? Share them with us.