I have already posted a bunch of posts on our the outreach program we have been working on at Northwest called Church Steps (please check out that page if you don’t know what this ministry is but want more info on equipping and facilitating outreach in the congregation). The goal has been to engage our members in reaching out to others. To make a long story short, we laid out 5 steps that help us identify where people are at in their walk so that we can help get them to the next step:
Step 1 – Attract: Those we have invited but who haven’t come to anything yet where any of our people are – small group, worship, class, event, etc
Step 2 – Welcome: Those who have come to something. They made the move to show up…I know, very attractional but you have to start somewhere and it is working!
Step 3 – Relationships: Once they come we want them to connect with others
Step 4 – Transform: at some point, someone has to sit down and teach them about Jesus. It doesn’t just happen
Step 5 – Integrate: once they are baptized, they need to get involved
So we have had this class meeting every Wednesday night since last May (get the template here, template explained here). In this class we talk about who we know who we want to invite to church, study with, coordinate contact with those who have stopped attending, encourage our shutins, etc. We take our visitor information and get people to contact our visitors and invite them to small group, class, lunch, celebrate any victories from the past week and spend time studying and equipping. It has had a tremendous impact. Our people are on the lookout for visitors. Our visitors are finding the people who wrote them on Sunday and thanking them. Connections are being made but it has to get deeper.
This mirrors Jesus’ ministry
As I was thinking over the last 11 months of doing this something hit me between the eyes. I realized that if you look at Jesus’ ministry, the five steps is actually descriptive of what Jesus did. He invited people to follow him, formed a relationship with them, taught them and then sent them. What is more, people are at first most comfortable starting where Jesus started – inviting people. It is less threatening to invite someone via card or call than it is to study with someone. But what has happened is, the more we have gotten people doing steps 1-2 work, the more they realize the need to get deeper with these people (steps 3-5). So now they are asking for ways to take it beyond cards, calls, etc. What they are asking for is a way to move their ministry toward the more difficult steps. I don’t want it to sound like we haven’t had any movement on steps 3-5, we just haven’t been as intentional about it until now. I am very excited about this development.
Next move – So here is what we have to do. We have to get new people in, another group who will start where they are comfortable (working steps 1-2) and get those who have been doing it for 11 months working on those in steps 3-5. It is such a natural progression and now, after nearly a year it has finally clicked, not because I told them it needed to but because they now have the desire to go deeper with people. We are going to provide a regular fellowship event for the visitors we are contacting and may start providing funds for Sunday lunches with visitors. We are also going to start setting up Bible studies with those who are in Step 4 during Sunday morning Bible class using Jesus 101.
Please, contact me – I really want to encourage you guys…if you want to get your people moving on actually reaching out to their friends, connecting with your visitors and actually doing Bible studies with non-Christians please email me and let me send you all the resources. All free, all in pdf…easy to set up and facilitate – firstname.lastname@example.org