Category Archives: Assimilation

The value of a Ministry Rotation

One of the best ways to include more people in ministry is to create a rotation for your ministries that alternates weekly.  At present, we have a 6 week ministry rotation at our church.  This was started because as we continued to grow, we began to notice two things.  First,  the people who were involved in ministry were getting burned out from serving every week.   Second,  it was becoming harder to find valuable ministry opportunities for people to become involved in as they began to come to the church.  We started looking for solutions.  We realized our Children’s Ministry Director already had a 6 week rotation in place for her ministry that was working effectively.  It didn’t take us long to see that this was something that needed to be implemented into every ministry.  Instantly we had more opportunities to serve than we had people to fill the opportunities.  But this also gave us room to continue to grow and develop.  We also saw that people were able to serve in 2 and 3 ministries without conflict because of this style of rotation.  This helped them to be able to use a variety of gifts throughout a 6 week period.  Below are a five things I’ve noticed that having a ministry rotation has done at our church:

  1. It creates opportunity.  We don’t want to have people doing something just to fill a spot, but to feel valuable.  There are a lot of things that must be done every week both on site and off site in order to fulfill the mission of each ministry.  By rotating people in each week, we have provided opportunity for more people to become engaged in the ministry. They also become more fulfilled by serving in a way that can have a Kingdom impact.
  2. It creates ownership. It’s amazing to see that as people get plugged in through serving, their perspective changes.  It may seem like a subtle change, but it is very significant.  Often, before they get connected through ministry, they talk about “the church” they attend.  Once they have connected and have a responsibility, they talk about “their church”.  They have ownership and realize they are a part of something bigger than themselves.  They, in fact, are an active part of the body of Christ!
  3. It develops depth.  Let’s say that in order to accomplish the tasks of one ministry each week, we needed five people to serve.  By providing a six week rotation, we now move from five people in this ministry to 30 people overnight.  As we add these people into the ministry, we automatically change our thinking.  Instead of asking the question “How many do we need?”, it becomes “How many can we involve?”  We also have looked at breaking up the responsibilities of the ministry from having a large amount on one person to having it divided between multiple people.  This has helped us create even more depth within our ministries.
  4. It builds leaders.  In this structure, because we’re able to involve more people, we have a need to develop more leaders for each weekly rotation.  This is actually a good thing because as you build leaders in your church, you are creating a stronger foundation for growth.  Instead of needing one leader for a ministry team, we now see the need to have six team leaders, one for each week, who work with the ministry coordinator/leader.  Multiply this across your ministries and you quickly see more leaders rising up within your church.
  5. It builds ministries.  This is one of the best side effects to a ministry rotation we have seen.  As we have involved more and more people in ministry, it has freed our staff from some of the details of the ministry and allowed them to broaden the scope and reach of various ministries.  Because of this, we have been able to build more ministries to reach more people and provide more areas of opportunity to serve.
I think as we examine Scripture, we find that a shared ministry approach is a very Scriptural model for us to implement in our churches.  God moves and works in ways that often we don’t understand.  At times, He will move some of our key people out of our church because of another ministry opportunity, a job or another reason.  By having this ministry rotation in place, along with a way to develop leaders, we have discovered that when this does happen, we’re not left picking up the pieces and scrambling for who can help.  We already have leaders in place to help with the void.  My prayer is this post has been helpful as you develop opportunities for people to be used to impact the world around them.

Are you ready for a first time guest?

A first time guest in our services shouldn’t be just a pleasant surprise, but an expected part of the services.  In fact, a portion of our preparation for Sunday should be making sure we are inviting people to join us for services and encouraging our people to do the same.  With that said, we should be expecting new people to walk into our doors every Sunday.  Because of this, there are a few questions we should be asking ourselves.  I want to spend some time exploring these questions in this post.

1.  What are we doing to make them feel welcome?  It is a hard thing to walk in the front door of a new place and not know where you’re going or what waits on the other side of those doors.  Making a choice to visit a church requires our guest to ‘put themselves out there’.  You may be comfortable at your church, but this may be the first time in years that your guest has walked in the front door of a church.  There are a few things we can do to help them feel welcome.  We can start by having a team of people who are available for our guests to open the doors, give direction, help orient people to the building (restrooms, children’s, worship center, etc…), and provide a warm welcoming face as well as their name that our guests can know as soon as they walk in the doors.  Some churches have put into practice having guides available to walk with guests as they move through the complex to help them find their way around.  We also need to be sure that we aren’t just welcoming those who look like us, but we welcome everyone that Christ died for.  It’s not our place to pick and choose who has a right to worship or hear the gospel.  We should welcome everyone God brings through our front doors regardless of their outward appearance.

2.  How are we engaging them in the services?  One of the best things we can do to engage our guests is let them experience the services like everyone else.  Having guests stand up and draw attention to themselves or ‘remain seated in a seat of honor’ helps them feel more like outsiders.  I have been in services where, as a guest, I was asked to stay seated while the regular attendees and members were encouraged to greet each other and those who were sitting down.  It is an awkward place to put a first time guest in.  (Note: depending on your culture, you may find that this works great, but let the culture dictate it.)  I have found that encouraging opportunities for everyone to greet each other is good, especially if you encourage everyone to find two or three people they don’t know and introduce themselves.

3.  Is there any plan in place to follow up with them after the services?  Let’s be honest, follow up is where we normally drop the ball.  But follow up is a very important part of anything we set out to do when we’re ministering to people.  When we follow up with first time guests, it lets them know that we value them and also gives them an opportunity to find answers to any questions they may have.  This is also a great time to not only thank them for coming but let them know about how to connect in an upcoming event, groups, or ministries.  If you don’t have a plan for follow up, you can look at Our Church Assimilation Process for a plan we have used for the past few years and found it to be very effective.  All of it may not work for your church, but it may be a good place to start.  Doing something in the area of follow up is better than doing nothing at all.

4.  Are we genuinely interested in them or in the ‘numbers’ they bring?  Numbers are important for one reason and one reason only.  Every number represents a person.  Every person is an opportunity to see God do something in and through them that only He can do.  When you look at Scripture, you see that Jesus fed 5000 and that 3000 were added on the day of Pentecost.  We find accounts of numbers throughout Scripture which means that someone took the time to count how many were there, because numbers matter.  But we also find in Scripture that numbers matter to God because He is genuinely interested in people.  So much so that He sent His Son to die for them.  When we work with new comers, we can work a plan or a system, but realize that each person has a different background and a different gifting from God.  Keep this in mind as you begin to pour into them and bring them into the church.

5.  What would make them want to be a second time guest or even become a regular attendee?  We should know that every first time guest that comes through the door will not become a second time guest for one reason or another.  But the primary reason for that should be because God has another church He wants to use them at.  We should do what we can to create an atmosphere where God’s Word is not only proclaimed boldly and truthfully, but it is lived out in action on Sundays as well.  We should seek to create an environment where people are genuinely welcome no matter their status.  In the eyes of God we all are sinners who have the opportunity to be accepted in Him because of His grace and His grace alone.  Let’s treat everyone like Christ died for them and we’ll see more first timers become regular attendees.

I’ve noticed seasons where we didn’t seem to have many first time guests coming to our church.  When we looked into it, we discovered that either we weren’t inviting people to come or we weren’t prepared for them to come.  Let’s get ready for first time guests this Sunday and see what God will do.


Fresh Eyes are Valuable

English: A keyboard with clutter on it to illu...

Image via Wikipedia

Have you ever found yourself going into a store and being put off by the clutter, disorganization, dust or something else?  Have you ever gone to fill up with gas and pick the brighter well lit gas station over the older station with dimmer lights?  The truth is that we make choices every day based off of what we see and how we perceive things to be.  It could be that we make the decision off of a need to feel safe or the idea that a store like this wouldn’t have quality merchandise.  But without knowing it, we make a split second decision of where to go, how long to stay and if we will return to that place.  Realizing this, a fresh set of eyes on our church complex might prove to be time well spent.

As you walk through your complex, try to put yourself in the place of a guest to your church.  What do you see?  This can be difficult for us to look at with fresh eyes because many times we are walking through the same halls everyday.  It might be better to get someone else from outside the church to walk through and give their opinion.  You might be surprised at what they tell you.

There are a few things below that you can look at as you begin to evaluate how welcoming your complex may be:

1.  When you pull up to the building.

  • Is it inviting? (clean, lawn/building maintained, etc…)
  • Does it have clearly marked directional signage for guests? Including where to park, where is the main entrance, etc…
  • If you could identify one thing as you pull up to the building that might need to change, what would that be?

2.  When you enter the building.

  • Is there a welcoming atmosphere/environment created? (Any clutter, or items that have no purpose being in the main entry?)
  • Is it clean?  What is the first thing that you smell when you walk in?
  • Does it have clearly marked directional signage or a campus map letting people know where to go? (i.e. where is Children’s Ministry, Worship Center, etc…)
  • If you could identify one thing as you walk into the building that might need to change, what would that be?

3.  As you walk through the building.

  • There are many places that things get ‘stuck’ in a church building.  As you walk through the building ask yourself, What is the purpose of this being here? What value is it to our guests and regular attendees? If it’s not decor that is creating a welcoming atmosphere or something that will enhance the full experience on Sunday morning, it might need to go.
  • Is there a detailed cleaning that is needing done? Look at the lights, baseboards, walls, etc…
  • Is there some building maintenance that needs taken care of? (Lights that need replaced, toilets that need repaired, carpet that needs fixed, etc…)
  • Are there outdated materials left from previous weeks and months? If so, eliminate them.
  • If you could identify one thing or group of things that might need to change as you walk through the building, what would that be?

4.  Pay attention to the restrooms

  • Restrooms are a great place to invest some time.  This may not be high on our ‘worship experience’ list.  But it is high on the list of every ‘consumer minded’ person who walks through our doors.  Are the restrooms clean and inviting?
  • Are they well stocked for the amount of people that will be coming through the building?
  • Is there any maintenance, painting, etc… that needs to be taken care of?
  • Are there baby changing stations available for guests to use?
  • Is the smell pleasant when you walk into the restrooms?
  • If you could identify one thing that might need to change as you examine your restrooms, what would that be?

One exercise that you might find very enlightening.  Take a neighborhood tour of churches.  (These will be the same churches your guests may be visiting too.)  Ask yourself these same types of questions as you walk through their building.  What ideas can you learn from them that you can take back to your church complex? If  for some reason you can’t tour neighborhood churches, then anytime you’re at a meeting in another church, make sure to use this time to also pick up any ideas that might help you develop your welcoming environment at your church.

We might could discuss the fact that people should come to church for worship and not care about the rest.  And in a world where we were all spiritually mature, that would be true.  But the fact is we should also be seeking to reach those around us who are lost and those who haven’t grown spiritually.  One thing that I emphasize continually with our property team is that the work they do to keep the grounds and the property maintained is an important part of seeing people come to Christ.  It eliminates the distractions.  Even those that come through our doors with a ‘consumer’ mindset will have barriers removed so they can worship and draw closer to God.  Our goal is to use our facilities to bring honor and glory to God.  It is to allow people to come and worship together.  Spend some time evaluating your complex and see if some of the ‘first impressions’ that you’re giving to people are actually causing them to leave.  We are stewards of all that God has blessed us with daily.  Let’s take good care of it!


Introducing “Your Church”

Waggoner IL - Christian Church (1 of 3)

(Photo credit: myoldpostcards)

I know that ‘Your Church’ sounds like it’s leaving God out of the picture. We could debate the value of saying ‘God’s Church’ when we are talking about His bride.  And I totally understand and agree with this.  What I mean when I am referencing ‘Your church’ is how it functions and what are some characteristics of the specific local church.

Just like God created all of us as individuals to be different, I believe all churches have their own uniqueness as well.  The pastors’ heart and the characteristics of the members of the body help to form the ‘personality’ of the church.  With all that said, I think it is important that we create ways to introduce ‘our church’ to those who are new to the church.  This will go a long way to closing the back door and helping people gain a better understanding of how to connect to the church.  We have been doing this at our church for several years now by offering monthly sessions that are about 45 minutes to an hour long, where we follow this basic outline:

  1. Who we are and where we’ve come from (People really want to know some history about how the church has made it to where they are today.)
  2. Engage by asking people what they are enjoying about our church (Great opportunity to hear some encouraging words and for those there to voice their thoughts)
  3. How to connect at our church.  We promote 2 basic ways: Ministries (Serving) and small groups (Discipleship/Relationships).  It’s important to have ways for people to ‘connect’ at the meeting by signing up to try out a ministry or sign up for a group of some type.  They need a way at the meeting to act on what it is you are telling them to do.
  4. How we function (What is the structure of the church like?)
  5. What’s unique about our church (Is there anything that is different?)

This meeting helps paint a picture of not only the church, but also a path for people to follow to experience more of what the church is doing.  This is not a high pressured sales pitch for the church.  It’s more of a casual atmosphere where we normally have snacks and something to drink.  At this meeting we also make the statement, “We know that every church is not for every person, but every person needs to be a part of a church.  If this isn’t the church for you, we want to help you find that church and if there is anything we can do to help you in this process we’re here.”  We have found that this disarms people and helps them to relax and listen to what we have to say.

Note:

This is not a membership class and people are not encouraged to become a member until they have connected to ministries and groups.  Once they have done this, they are encouraged to come to the next new member class where the Membership Agreement is reviewed in depth.


%d bloggers like this: