Devotion: Jesus’s visit.
Luke 19:1-6 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
This is one of the very first bible stories, I ever heard as a child. I have literally this week only realized something. Well; two things; 1) Jesus did visitation. We don’t do visitation because it is key to connecting the church with the community, nor because it is critical to the process of building ministries in a post-Christian culture. No, we do visitation because Jesus did it. Even if there was no other ‘advantages’ that would be good enough.
The 2nd thing and main thing is, Zacchaeus is alive and well today. “Huh?!” I hear you ask, let me explain. It is the easiest thing in the world to assume that the people we are going to visit don’t really want to see us, and don’t really want to get to know Jesus. Heck that’s precisely what Jesus (Had he not been also God) would have assumed about Zacchaeus.
Zacchaeus is a tax collector, Jesus a Rabbi in this society no two sorts of people would have wanted to see each other less. This is like a hyper conservative evangelical Christian saying to the atheist member of the ‘Australian sex & legalize marijuana party’ “Hey mate, I’m coming to visit.” But just because our assumptions might dictate that this person doesn’t want to see us, it doesn’t mean they haven’t been up their spiritual fig tree thirsting, dying even for an audience with the real Jesus. The message of whom we carry.
Have you got someone in might that you imagine would never want you to visit them? What if they’ve been dying for you to ask if you can drop in?
Now here comes the scary question: why might have God put them on your mind?
Term 3 2016 session 2; Visitation; How to start.
- What to do beforehand.
- End the ‘negotiations’.
At the end of the day, we’ll be able to come up with about a thousand different reasons why we cannot or should not do something when it is outside our comfort zone. But remember; everything worthwhile exists outside our comfort zone. Revivals happen outside our comfort zone. Churches grow past their comfort zone. How many of Jesus’ miracles happened inside people’s comfort zones? God works in the awkward a lot more that the easy because it’s only when we’re crying out for his help do we tend to recognize it. So, make the decision. Nothing sustainable happens until we’re willing to suffer for it.
- Check the Roll (or make one)
Vary rarely will any ministry push past mere contact to real connections with people until it keeps an effective roll. Rolls are not just for a record of attendance, they are a prayer guide and a strategic visitation tool. If there is someone who hasn’t attended the ministry in 10 weeks and another who we haven’t seen for 2 weeks, which one should get priority?
Also, I have recently realized that rolls should include essential contact details for each of the names on them. So ministry members don’t need to have access to big huge filing cabinets to get in touch with folks.
Again a roll doubles as a prayer list. Look down the list of names, is there someone you feel that you really connected with during the last ministry session? Maybe pray something like “Lord, here I am, send me, reveal who you want to send me to.”
- Do your Research.
Do you know why people hate telemarketers? Because they don’t know them. When someone from India rings us up, the first thought in our head is something like, ‘You don’t know me, why should I listen to you?’ We need to show an interest in people from the beginning of the visit to the end. Nothing shows interest in people like what you know/have remembered about them.
So, I have a present. Here is a little notepad to keep in your pocket. With a pen, when you get a spare moment or straight afterwards during debrief or even take an extra minute before packing away the sign in desk after the last parent has left your ministry to go home, quickly record any new thing you may have found out about the person/child/family and keep a little record. If you have really done your research the smoother the visit will go, partly because you’ll have a wider array of more conversation topics but also because they’ll know that you really care about their lives.
- How to organize
Phone contact is always the best first contact. Here’s a Conversation Template you can use:
Hi________ (state their name)
(Parent Guardian): Yes.
(Your name)___________ here from Waratah Church. _____________ (Child’s name(s)) like to come along our Friday night youth nights/Toddler Jam etc..
(Parent/Guardian) Oh yes, he/she/we are enjoying that etc.
That’s Great! You’re probably busy, so I’ll be brief. I am calling because we would really love to get to know you and your son/daughter even better and also maybe get some feedback as to how they/you guys are finding youth/charge/toddler jam at the moment. (Include the parent and guardian in everything described.) Would I be able to drop in sometime within the next week (Flexible time period but with boundaries) to have a chat?
(Parent/Guardian) Oh yes, that would be great
Great! Thank you for that. I am available all Wednesday, Saturday arvo and Tuesday arvo, which of those suits you guys/your family best? (Again, inclusive language)
(Parent/Guardian) 3pm Saturday should work
Ok, can I just confirm your address off you enrolment for is still 234 st Bridgids Tce Doubleview? (Sounds better than asking for their address.)
Fantastic, I’ll see you there 3pm Saturday. I look forward to itJ
Once all of the above is done and agreed to, I always for the ‘first timers’ following with a confirmation txt message 24 hrs prior to the visit. You’d be surprised how many time that has saved me from being ‘stood up’.
Also, it’s really, really important to show up when you say you’re going to show up ans at least let them know if you’re running late.
- What to do while you are there (effective questions)
Here’s some good questions to open up the conversation on the visit (assuming you’ve done your ‘research’!
- How long have you guys lived in Mandurah?
- What’s something about youth/TJ/Charge/ you’re really enjoying at the moment?
- Is there anything that we can do better?
- Would you have any suggestions for us?
- Any questions for us?
- What’s something you really enjoy doing at school?
- How about when you’re not at school? Eg:weekend sports
- Show us what you’ve been doing with your lego/Minecraft/fishing etc…
Spiritual questions (a good rule of thumb is, if you ask 3 deeper questions and all three get evaded, then don’t force it any more than that.)
- How can I pray for you guys?
- So how are you guys going really?
- So when I was chatting with you at direction/TJ etc, you mentoned ‘x’. Have you seen any resolutions since?
- Would you like me to read the bible with you on a more regular basis?
- Can I pray for you now?
What not to do:
- Don’t laugh at anything unless they are laughing first.
- Resist the urge to fill the ‘dead air’ with what Waratah is doing, only talk about our stuff if they ask, otherwise stay interested in their stuff.
- If folks really open up on really serious and painful stuff, don’t whatever you do, sit there and say ‘Yeah, wow I remember when that happened to me.’ As obvious as this one sounds I think it is the single hardest thing to stop yourself from doing sometimes.
- Don’t try and be a professional counsellor or sound clever, if you get asked a question you don’t know the answer to, just say I don’t know.
- FAQ’s on Visitation/Troubleshooting
- What if the parent leaves me there alone with someone under 18/ opposite gender?
- What if I get it all organized and then turn up only to find that they have changed the arrangements?
- What if the kids just plain don’t want to chat to me at all? (have a game that’ll fit in your pocket.
- Any others?