- Why? (‘Shooting the elephant in the room)
So there I was, my first ever year at Waratah and I was introduced to the monster called…. ‘carols’. My reaction? Make into an even bigger monster thru the introduction of a ‘family fun zone’. This of course was immediately following the Fete that we did in September 09.
Part of the ‘grand plan’ of the families’ zone was to have a mingling team; people whose job it was to mingle among the crowd, give out youth programs and, well let’s be honest; hopefully convert every person they conversed with.
Here’s what happened; not a whole lot. Here’s why; I told people to fulfill a role that although clear in my mind was totally unexplained to them and I assumed that they would magically have all the skills need to carry out their role with zero training nor specific focus.
Nothing makes a waste of more effort or resources like assumption.
Let’s just drop the myth that just because someone is a Christian, they are automatically fully equipped to speak the Gospel message into someone’s life. (Caveat: yes the Spirit gives special anointing to folks in special situations where they have not the resources or are put on the spot.) But let’s not dare to expect the Spirit of God to cover over laziness. Rather let’s be deliberate in equipping each other for making real long lasting connections with people.
This is why language matters. You get what you emphasize. We need to compliment talk about
- community contact(s) with more about community connection.
- being welcoming (that only takes 5 mins) with more about investing in people’s lives in creative ways.
- inviting them to programs, with more about inviting them into our lives.
Apply: What are some terms you’ve heard that we tend to use in our ‘christianese’ that actually don’t really mean a lot anymore? Or that may even be a cover for laziness?
- Contact vs Connection
So how does this happen? Well as it happens there are I believe some absolute experts at this right here at Waratah. I emailed a few of them (not all) and did some research. These are some ‘home grown’ suggestions right out of this church, and my goodness did I get some rippers: (Emphases mine.)
- Find a common interest eg family type, hobbies, food or culture.
- Be prepared to spend time with them. Time, the ultimate currency. (this especially is talking about outside of church stuff.)
- If/when they do come along seek them out and sit/stand with them during or after the ministry session.
- Do not abandon them before they have made some friends of their own.
- Know that people, if they’re here, are here for a limited time only, but chairs/dishes/mess aren’t going anywhere.
- Be honest about your life, especially if it’s not all ‘sunshine and honeycombs’ people want real rather than ‘righteous’. (Caveat: but don’t take over a conversation with whinging though!)
- Respect! Old school manners go a surprisingly long way.
- Ask people about a/the community cause that they’re passionate about. Better yet join a cause that they/the community care about. Eg: serve on the board of a P&C.
- Visit them. More than once. 2000 years later, we still haven’t come up with anything better than good ol’ fashioned pastoral care.
- Show a genuine interest in the future of their children.
- Shared appropriate Humor. eg: Embarrassing stories.
- Finish as many conversations as you can with an invite. Either invite them or invite ‘yourself’
Apply: Let’s strike whilst the Iron is still hot. What are some other suggestions that we can brainstorm right now? I’ll then photo the whiteboard and send them out. (So I’ll need a neat writer to be scribe.)
- Good questions to connect:
Ok, so what if you are in the space where you’ve been spending time with different folks and you feel that you’re getting a raport to the point where you’ve gotten a bit beyond “how’s the weather”, here’s some good questions to deepen conversations…
- ‘What do you need?’
- ‘How can we help?’
- What would you like to see happen in this ministry?
- Is there anything that we’re not doing well?
- Is there something that you’d like to be involved in?
Apply: Again, any others that you can thing of?
- The golden rule.
One last thing, and it undergirds all of what we’ve been saying today. It’s the golden rule of connecting with people and it’s something that I have had to annoyingly agree with even though I don’t want to.
You only get what you bother to measure.
As a ministry team in any ministry you only get what you bother to measure (and hence discuss). This is why the vaguer a vision statement is, the more useless it is, because there’s no focus.
When you read the New Testament, like it or not, there were 7 specific things that were measured and tracked by the Early Church, and no, how may there was on a Sunday morning or how the offering is/was going is not on the list. These are the top 3:
- First time commitments to Jesus.
- (yep that high up on the list.)
- Involvement in close-knit accountable community. (eg: home group/bible study)
The point is, they knew what they were aiming for and they got it.
So here’s the question: On a scale of 1-10, how plainly obvious to all and sundry is it that our kid’s ministry is all about connecting with families?
Then, no matter which number you end up with on the scale, ask; what am I/can I be doing to take that from a 4 to a 5? Or a 7 to an 8? Or even a 9 to a 10?
Lastly, don’t be scared of numbers when used for accountability purposes. Set a realistic goal right now to connect with a certain number of families (even if it’s just one) this term coming.
 Adopted from research done by Crossway Baptist Church Victoria and outlined in 2014 annual report: http://www.crossway.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/AnnualReport-2013.pdf