Connections is an important aspect of welcoming people to your church and to the core ministry where life change occurs. If we are ever going to fully realize the potential God has given our church through our people, we must give serious thought to what we do when a person says “yes” to the faith and “yes” to doing life together with our church.
I am surprised by the number of churches that simply don't dedicate resources to this essential process. Shouldn't we steward our people as carefully as we steward our money?
Here are 12 things I have observed in churches maximizing this part of their ministry plan:
- Define your connections goals clearly. If they are not defined, you will not know what data to collect, manage and measure.
- Offer a pre-membership class online to learn more. Show and tell people what to expect. Give them a reason to show up in person for the new member’s class.
- Involve the pastor in the new member’s program. Never underestimate the power of personal presence to say "you matter."
- Clearly define your expectations of how a member functions in your church. This is a great time to talk about things like Worship, small groups, giving, and serving.
- Make available all new member content on a microsite online for future reference. No one should be expected to remember everything or to keep up with all the printed materials.
- Break it down into steps. Don’t dump everything on a new member at one time.
- Include a personal assessment or inventory of learning styles, interests, skills, and abilities. Most people haven’t done much self-discovery on their own. This will prove to be invaluable and may uncover some new ministry ideas.
- Ask for feedback. Ask people to share their impressions with you - you will get great information and probably a few surprises.
- Manage the process and track what you learn in your Church Management System (ChMS). You have to have data before you can report, analyze and adjust. This should be a core purpose of your ChMS.
- Send follow up communication on a pre-defined schedule based on the preferences of the member. (e.g. email, snail mail, etc.)
- Track the habits of the new member class as a cohort. Group tracking allows you to see pockets or consistencies in experience and behavior.
- Evaluate the data you are collecting to determine what’s working and what isn’t. If something isn’t working, make adjustments. What good is collecting data if you aren't going to do anything with it.
Technology can play a huge role in helping you make connections more efficient and effective. In addition to helping you distribute the workload of the process, it can also provide that one righteous place where resulting information resides and informs you. Clear communication of expectations, providing a process of self-discovery, tracking the right information, communicating based on member preferences, and monitoring the behavior of a group or cohort over a series of predictable intervals will allow you to monitor and grade your ability to move people from “I'm in” to “I’m committed.”
What would you add to the list?