Be Yourself

I’ve often thought about how amazing it is that God made each and every one of us unique.  I know if it were me doing the creating, once I got to a good design, I would make a lot of duplicates.  But God not only made us unique, but is glorified in our uniqueness.  But too many times, we get caught in the cycle of being someone that God did not make us to be.  We try to be like a friend, our pastor, our dad, our brother or someone else we think has it all together.  Because of this, we aren’t living in our sweet spot.  I like to think of my life like a suitcase.  When I’m getting ready to go on a trip, long or short, there are a few things that I consider as I pack my bags.  The first thing is my destination.  I pack according to where I’m going.  I’ll pack differently for going to a place near me or going overseas.  The second thing is the season or the weather.  I pack according to the time of year.  Is it going to be hot or cold?  I also consider things that I may enjoy on any trip.  Is it a business trip or a casual trip? Will I have time to read? What else can I do in my downtime?

The truth is, if we were to all pack for the same trip and then compare bags, chances are great that there wouldn’t be any two bags alike.  We take care in packing and put a lot of thought into it and a lot of it is based on who we are.  We can’t live out of other people’s bags.  It doesn’t work that way.  The clothes wouldn’t fit, the extra’s wouldn’t match what we enjoy.

God has done the same thing with us in our lives.  He considered our destination and the timing and even considered what we may enjoy.  He packed each one of us to be who he created us to be.  Because of that, each of us are packed differently.  We may have some similarities, but not one of us in here are exactly alike.  That’s God’s plan.  He doesn’t want us to all be alike … he has intentionally created us to be different.  We would find it difficult to effectively use the tools and gifts that others have been given.  But it becomes easy to use the ones that God has given to us.  Instead of running from who we are, we should be excited about how God has made us.

A key thought through all of this is that when your uniqueness meets with God’s purpose, everyone benefits!

I’ve discovered 4 reasons in scripture to be yourself.

I Corinthians 12:14-18 tells us, “Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

  1. You belong.  Belonging means that you’re connected to something bigger than yourself.  Because of that, you have a responsibility that fits with who God made you to be.  Belonging lets us know that we’re not a solo act, but part of a bigger plan.  God didn’t create us to act independently of others, but to be involved with others.  If we want to thrive and succeed as we journey through life, we must discover our place of belonging in the body.
  2. You are unique.  This is because of who you are.  God made you on purpose.  You were no accident.  You have a reason for being.  He has given you abilities, relationships, experiences and gifts that make you who you are.  Because of all of this you are uniquely gifted to do exactly what God wants you to do.  Your characteristics, background, upbringing, perspective, and skills are different than others.  This is not a bad thing, it’s a great thing for everyone.
  3. You are valuable.  Because of what you can do for the body.  You can serve God best with who he has made you to be.  Many of us are ‘fans’ of church and we love to watch what God is doing through our church.  But we cheer from the sidelines and never set foot on the field.  God didn’t create any of us to be a bench warmer.  He made you to get in the game and fulfill the role he equipped you to do.
  4. You serve a purpose.  It’s no mistake that you are where God has placed you.  God has arranged each of us in the way he wanted us to be.  You have a purpose.  Because of that purpose, you have a job to do.  This is best done as you discover who you are and work hard at being yourself.  When you realize your purpose you can serve with a purpose and a passion that only comes from God.  When you realize that you serve a purpose in His church and you step up to fill that role, you glorify God.

I Peter 4:10 tells us, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering Gods grace to others.”  This should be our goal.  Our gifts are not for ourselves, but for others.  God gets the glory when you be who He made you to be.  He takes pleasure in seeing you be you.  When you don’t fulfill your role in the body of Christ, the church is crippled.  Other parts of the body have to carry the weight and are used in ways they weren’t designed to be used.

The question to ask yourself today is what are you going to do with who God made you to be?  You may feel ordinary, but God has made you to be extraordinary.  He has placed value on your life and gifted you uniquely to fulfill a roll within His body.  You serve a purpose! When you don’t we’re crippled.  When you don’t, you can’t give Him the Glory.

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The Joy of Record Keeping

I know if you’re not administratively gifted that keeping records are a thorn in your flesh.  I mean, who really needs to know what people gave on a certain week or exactly how many were in small groups last week?  Aren’t we really seeking to glorify God in what we do?  I would say the answer is we need to know where we have been to know where we are going and by doing that we can glorify God in the results.  It’s interesting to me that as I read scripture, I see that someone was administratively inclined.  There was someone who counted that 3000 were added to the church on the day of Pentecost.  Someone counted that Jesus fed the 5000.  When Jesus sent out the 72 to the towns and cities, how did they know it was 72?  Someone counted that Gideon started with 30,000 men and ended up with 300 men.  The fact is that throughout scripture God is tracking what is happening in the life of the early church.  We can learn from this example and keep records of what is happening in the life of our church as well.  I’ve discovered as I look at real numbers, it is often different from my perception of how things are going.  Sometimes the real numbers encourage me and sometimes they challenge me to reach new goals.  Either way, they are valuable in measuring the physical and spiritual growth of our church.

You can track, attendance of your weekly worship service, tithes and offerings, per capita giving, baptisms, first time guests, new members, small group attendance as well as projections for some of these areas.  By tracking many of these you will be able to see over a period of time how your church is doing at evangelism and outreach, discipleship, assimilation, and other areas.

Many of the church management software today allow you to track and print reports on many of the areas above.  If you don’t have that capability, I am including a digital form (in excel format) I have used over the past several years that can help you keep records of what is taking place on a weekly basis.  You can click here to download it: Church Data Sheet


Organizing Your Time

Organization would be at the top of most of our to do lists if we had time to make a to do list.  But the fact is that most of us go through life each day just trying to survive.  We live as though we are a passenger in our own lives.  We’re simply along for the ride.  We go through each day with no real direction other than the urgent demands of our days.  And then we often wonder why we aren’t moving forward in many areas of our lives.  What would your life look like if you began to live intentionally? What would change if you made an effort to become organized in how you approach your days and weeks?  What would be different for you if you began to try to organize things in every area of your life?  Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

In the 1960s, Time magazine reported that a subcommittee of the United States Senate was assembled to discuss the topic of time management. Essentially, the best experts in the field were concerned that with advances in technology the biggest problem by the end of the century would be what people would do with all their free time. It was actually suggested that workers would have to cut back on how many hours a week they worked, or how many weeks a year they worked, or else they would have to start retiring sooner. The truth is that the average workweek is now 47 hours – up from 43 hours two decades ago. A recent Gallup Poll found that 44% of Americans consider themselves workaholics.  As a pastor, I am no different.  I see the needs of people around me and because I haven’t set up boundaries in how I will use my time, I find myself being pulled in multiple directions at once and feel guilty when I can’t rise to the demands.  But this isn’t a biblical perspective of how we use our time.

Would you classify yourself as a workaholic?  It’s not something that we should brag about.  In fact, to be a workaholic is to be out of God’s will for your life. Part of his plan for your life is to have downtime as well as time with family and opportunities to build relationships.  The reason we find ourselves in these situations and often facing burnout is because we don’t discipline ourselves with how we use our time.  Organization is discipline in action.  Ephesians 5:15-16 tells us, “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity”.  The questions we should ask ourselves is are we being careful? Are we being wise? Are we making the most of every opportunity?  How we organize our day will determine how well or how wisely we will live that day.

This is why I have four basic areas I work through when I am trying to make sense of my days, weeks and months.

  1. Itemize.  Be detailed in your plans.  This is where you randomly write down everything that you have going on.  What is it that is consuming your thoughts.  Write it down (i.e. pay bills, get groceries, pick up kids, write sermon, etc…).  We often fail to start with this very simple step of actually writing down what it is we have to accomplish throughout the day or week.  Then when we remember it, we go into panic mode because we are rushed for time to accomplish everything.  So I would encourage you to take some time to write it down.
  2. Categorize.  Assign relevance to the details.  Once you have your list of items written down, you will start to notice areas that go together on your list.  You may notice some main categories like Ministry/Work, Personal, Family, etc…  Then you may also notice some subcategories with these.  Under Personal, you may notice several Financial things that must be accomplished and can group them accordingly. (I would put it on my priority list as follows – Personal: Financial: Pay bills.)  As I began to pull all the personal things together, I would also group the financial areas.  You can do this in every area to start to gain clarity in what is really taking place. This also works great in ministry when you are working in multiple areas within the church to begin to gain clarity and focus of objectives.
  3. Prioritize.  Determine the order of importance.  Let’s face it.  We have a lot to do every day.  But the truth is there are some things that we do that could be done at a later time (or eliminated all together).  Place importance on the categories that match up with who God made you to be and what He wants you to accomplish.  There may be some things on your to do list that have nothing to do with where God is leading you in your family, ministry, work, etc… These are areas I usually start eliminating because they are simply noise in my life.  Once you have successfully itemized, categorized and prioritized what is going on in your life, there is one last area that can’t be missed.
  4. Strategize. Plan your day and work your plan.  It’s great to have an idea of what is going on and even to assign priority to it.  But what does this look like on a daily basis?  This is where the strategy comes in.  I think it’s important for us to realize that mentally and emotionally, we can only go in a few different directions in one day.  Because of this, we need to be strategic in what we allow ourselves to be focused on each day.  It may be that you group all of your Personal:Finance items into one day along with a few other personal categories and make that a part of that days strategy.  You may have different areas of focus in ministry.  I would encourage you to have certain days of the week designated for certain areas of focus.  (i.e. Monday Ministry: Communication: all emails, phone calls, newsletters etc…, Tuesday Ministry: Sermon Prep: Finalize sermon for Sunday, continue to develop sermons for following weeks, Wednesday Ministry: Staff: Work with staff concerning areas of need, etc…)  The key is when we get phone calls to pull us into a different area that we push those into the days where we are actually going to be working in that category.  (There may be emergencies that come up, but most of the urgent demands that come up can actually wait.) This will help reduce stress and also help us stay focused on what needs to be accomplished that day.

Now, I know you may be thinking that this will cost me more time and I can’t spend time doing this with everything else I have going on in my life.  I would say that you will actually gain time by making this process a priority.  This approach to my schedule has helped me stay focused even in some of the most chaotic times of my ministry.  I’ve heard it said, “If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.”  And I believe this to be true.  When I find myself getting stressed or overwhelmed, I can usually look and realize that I have stopped being wise with my time and I am letting others control my time for me.  A good example of this process in practice is found in Genesis 1 when God created.  He took chaos and gave it order.  He didn’t create all at once, but allowed different things to be accomplished on different days.  He had details that he wanted accomplished, but worked through categories and priorities to accomplish His strategy.  I would encourage you to read through that chapter again and see how God organized that one week according to the above areas and see what changes you could make to model that in your life.

Update to blog:  As requested, I have put together a sample to do list of what a finished week might look like.  You will need to discover your own categories and priorities, but maybe this will help you as you are putting it together.  You can download it here: Sample To Do List

Note: I use evernote one my phone and have used docs to go to keep track of this electronically.  It’s easier to manipulate once it’s in the computer.


Defining the Reality of Giving

I believe that Stewardship is a process of discipleship.  Because of this, we need to be able to measure the growth of the discipleship in this area of ministry just as in any other area.  There are some who have the spiritual gift of giving, but there are others that this must be cultivated in as they develop in their walk with Christ.  As such, it is important for a pastor to not only identify the types of givers that are in the church, but also develop a plan to disciple these givers into the next step of giving.  As we take an initial look at giving there are three things we need to do:

1.  WE NEED TO IDENTIFY TYPES OF GIVERS

There are 5 Types of Givers in Every Church

Never Given  (Non-Givers)

  • How many are giving nothing?
  • This number may surprise you if you haven’t been paying attention to your giving numbers.
  • The first law of leadership is to define reality (Max Depree).  By looking at “current reality” statistics, you create a benchmark to measure progress in your church’s stewardship.  You can track individual giving in a database.  From that giving record, what percentages of the households of my church are giving? What percentages are not giving? Measure the “overall stewardship health” of your church by comparing these percentages from year to year (and do the same with serving, small groups, etc.).  Find and keep the same measurement for growth year after year for comparison.

1st Time Givers (Initial Giver)

  • How many are giving between $1 and the “poverty level income”?
  • What is “Poverty Level Tithing? Determine what the government defines as the Poverty Level income – 10% of that number is “Poverty Level Tithing”.  For example, if poverty level is $12,000 then $1200 would be a poverty level tithe.
  • Motivate first time givers by being generous to people.  When you give something to people, they are more likely to give something back to you.  This is the law of generosity.  You’re goal is creating opportunities where people’s hearts become open to giving.  Your goal is not to twist their arm to give, but to allow them to give.  If your church has a culture of holding tightly to things, you’re people will too.

Regular Givers (Systematic Givers)

  • How many are giving between Poverty Level and 10% of the median income of my community?
  • How can you determine how many people are actually tithing in your church? Determine the median household income in your area and use 10% of that number.  This will give you at least an estimate number to work through.
  • The average church has about 3% of their church who actually tithe.   (Note:  Generally 20% of the congregation is giving 80% of the income in most churches. We need to change this trend.)

Tithers (Proportional Givers)

  • What would it look like if everyone at your church tithed based on the median household income of the area where you live?
  • Determine the median household income in your area and use 10% of that number as a guide for estimated tithe.

Extravagant Givers (Sacrificial Givers)

  •  How many are giving above tithe level?
  • Regardless of income, you can become an extravagant giver.  Giving away money prompts people to give.  This gives them a standard to live up to rather than a need to meet.  If you’re church isn’t doing much … these givers will give to many other organizations, because they want to give.  Make sure extravagant giving is part of your culture.
  • What is the gift of giving?  It’s a gift that takes you immediately into the sacrificial giving area.  They have the ability to encourage others to give and teach them how and why they moved into this area.  You can identify the gift of giving by the actions of the giver.
  • Use testimonies of these givers to motivate others.  Givers can share their gift of giving without sharing the amount that they gave.  They can state that they reevaluated their priorities to make sure that they put more into giving.  You don’t have to be rich in order to have the gift of giving.
  • We have to invest personally in these people in order for them to trust us enough and the vision of the church enough to give the big gifts.  Big gifts are treated outside the planning of the budget.
  • You should challenge people to give sacrificially.  This shouldn’t be an every week request, but you can effectively make it a couple of times a year.  Sacrificial is OVER AND ABOVE the level of tithes and offerings you give now.  Sacrificial giving is consistently giving over and above the tithe.

2.  IDENTIFY WHERE OUR CHURCH IS STRONG AS WE LOOK AT THE ABOVE AREAS.

  • After identifying each area within your church, which area identifies the highest percentage of your people?
  • Are there factors that have caused one of the five areas to be higher or lower because of the area where you live?

3.  IDENTIFY THE NEXT STEPS WE NEED TO TAKE TO MOVE TOWARDS DEVELOPING A CULTURE OF GIVING WITHIN OUR CHURCH.

  • What needs to take place in order to begin to make giving a bigger part of your church culture?
  • There are some related articles at the end of this blog that could give you some ideas of some steps to take to develop a culture of giving.
  • You can encourage the gift of giving, just as you would encourage any other spiritual gift.  If someone gives beyond a threshold, send a handwritten note from the pastor thanking them for their sacrificial giving.  Keep records of who it goes to so it doesn’t go out more than once.  Send an annual gift to recognize their Kingdom investment.  This could be a book about something that could inspire rest or something that would benefit them; a DVD of baptisms (visual of how their money made a difference); or even a book on giving.
  • You can take key givers out for a meal together.  Just as you would invest in developing any other ministry gift in the church or any other leader in the church, you should invest in this as well. This shows that you are willing to invest in them – ask key questions (know about them –family, where they serve, work, etc…):  How can we better minister to you as a church?  Do you have any questions about the direction of our church?  How can I pray for you?  By answering these questions it gives them value but also clears up unanswered questions that may also be hindering their giving even though they are key givers.  (Note: Don’t try to raise money at these gatherings.)


Identifying these types of givers at our church and a plan to move people forward has had an impact on not only our church as a whole, but the spiritual growth of many within our church.

Related articles


What’s Your Plan for the Offering?

There is one part of our worship service that is often an overlooked part of worship.  This is the time when we receive the offering.  Scripture teaches us that giving our tithes and offerings to the Lord is an act of worship.  As such, we should make this part of our service a continuation of our worship.  It’s not an add-on, an extra, or a break in the flow.  It is an act of worship.  As such, this is a time where people freely give their offering to God and as a church we receive the offering. (Often referred to as “Taking the offering”, but this creates an image for me of people with ski masks and guns taking what they want.)  We should have a well thought out plan not only of how we’ll receive the offering, but once it is received have a process in place that creates integrity in handling the gift.  Let’s explore three areas together:

1.  Preparing to Receive the Offering:  Have a plan of what you will do during this time.  Think intentionally, what are you talking about before you take the offering?  Script this out. This can include an orientation to the materials that you use or even direction to how the offering will be received and opportunities available for giving at other times (i.e. online, mailed in, foyer kiosk, etc…).  Also you can cast vision by telling them “Everything we do at the church happens because you give generously.”  Continue to cast vision for what the offering will be used for as they give.  Tell them things they made happen including testimonies, videos, baptisms, vbs, missions trips, community involvement, benevolence, outreach, etc… You can also tell them, “As part of your own personal accountability, we encourage you to use an offering envelope.”  Bottom line is we need to spend time before the offering preparing to receive it in a way that will bring honor to God.

2.  Receiving the Offering: Don’t surprise people by taking the offering at random times.  During the welcome, you can tell people about when the offering is going to be received.  This helps them get prepared for that time.  Remember that the offering is worship.  As a result, you should make it easy for people to give and be involved in this part of worship. I have heard many well meaning pastors at the time of their offering encourage first time guests not to give.  We wouldn’t encourage them not to praise God in singing or to listen to the message and respond, why would we encourage them not to give as an act of worship.  For some first time guests, the best thing they could do would be to give.  It may be what they need to do to open themselves up to God.  People aren’t offended by the fact that we receive an offering, it’s how we receive it, what we say, how we say it and present it (that’s why it is important that we think this through before we get to the offering).  As you are speaking during this time, don’t make it dark in the auditorium when you tell people to fill out their envelopes.  This works against what you’re trying to accomplish.  Give a minute warning before you take the offering so people can prepare to give.  We don’t want to rush the process of giving, but we also don’t want to get stuck here either.  You should be able to receive your offering in 45 seconds to one minute.  You can do this by placing a basket/bag  per row in your auditorium prior to services starting.  This can be placed under a chair/pew or a bag can be placed at the end of each row.  By doing this, everyone can ‘pass the plate’ at the same time and the ushers simply walk through and collect the baskets/bags.  Note: If you do not actually receive the offering during services, you lose money and your people miss out on a blessing.  If you use the tithe box, people forget to use them once they leave their seat.  Because of this, you don’t need to dismiss your service until the offering is completely received.

3.  After you have received the Offering: Take it from the floor to a secure room that is not in public traffic area.  Have a minimum of 2 counters (a few more could be helpful).  You can have all the ushers go to this room and count or just a few of them.  Once your in a secure place, I have found a good practice is to have this group pray for the offering, those who gave it and for God to use it for His glory.  Have a process in place for counting the offering.  Once that is complete, have those who counted sign of on the cashout sheet, envelope or any paperwork that is used in counting.  It is good to have a safe to keep your receipts in until it can be taken to the bank.  Once the offering is counted, place it in a bag and place the bag in the safe.  (A safe that does not require a code to place something into, but requires a code to get the money out of the safe is a good one to use.)  At no time in your process should you have only one person handling the money.  This is good to protect the church as well as those who are responsible for handling the money.  It is good to have a written plan of every step the offering takes from the moment it is collected until it is deposited into the bank.  By writing it down, you can identify areas that are needing improvement.

I believe that God honors our efforts as we build integrity into this process.  I have seen what has happened at our church as we developed a solid process of handling funds as they are given.  We have seen more first time givers and increased giving in general.  I can’t help but believe that God is pleased with our desire to be good stewards with what He entrusts with us.  If there is no system in place and things just happen from week to week, it is difficult to have integrity in place. (I know this, because of where we were before we developed our system.)  But if we’re faithful with the offerings and givers we have, I believe God will honor our faithfulness.

Resources


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.


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