Over the past several weeks, we have looked at the church’s initial effort to connect with its guests. The first few weeks–and the items we’ve covered thus far–are absolutely critical if you are going to see guests become an enduring part of the family.
But while these initial steps are essential, you also need to have a master plan for assimilation. In such a plan, you need to target the following goals:
Connection must occur in the first 2-4 weeks. While people may really enjoy the elements of your worship service, they’ll stop attending if they don’t make a few friends. Typically people need a significant friendship (such as the one who invited them) or 5-7 meaningful acquaintances (people who act like they could become real friends). As a pastor, I made a lot of effort to connect with guests, but the real “glue” of our church was the many members of our church who wanted to connect as well. I couldn’t be the close friend every guest needed, but we were blessed dozens of great people who took connecting with guests and creating friendships as their opportunity and responsibility.
The need for many connections is a key reason why you should not only meet new people at church but also introduce them to others. If guests have to start over with everyone they meet, the burden seems to be on them to connect. But a real effort on your part to not only meet guests, but help them meet other people, makes them feel like, well, a guest.
If your congregation leaves the welcoming of guests to the assigned greeters, you will struggle to assimilate new people into the congregation. Making connection is not the task of the few. Everyone of us needs to be friendly, and look for opportunities to join the fun of meeting new people. We need everyone involved if our guests are going to connect with enough people to come visit us again.
How does your church help create those connections? Do people take the initiative in approaching new people? How can you help your members see the potential in such efforts?
Put a few ideas together and set some clear connection goals. Soon you’ll see a real difference in the number of guests who choose to return.
Next week, we’ll look at the second part of the master plan for assimilation…