I enjoyed connecting with church planters from across the country at the Velocity Conference this year. Shawn Lovejoy and the crew at Mountain Lake Church in north Georgia do a great job hosting the event and encouraging church leaders who are in the trenches and sometimes bloodied by the battle. I was invited to speak about one of my favorite subjects: how to leverage technology to build your church’s core. In case you didn’t make it, here are the slides.
During my session, I told a story about some friends of mine who were pretty turned off by their church experience. Through some of my conversations with them, they became open to visiting our church. I had no idea how they were going to react. They liked it and almost immediately wanted to plug in. It was incredible. I really sensed God moving. They expressed an interest in getting involved in a few specific ministries.
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end well. Nobody in leadership from any of those ministries in our church ever reached out to them. (It’s more common than you might think.) They fell through the cracks, faded away, and never came back.
When churches don’t have processes in place to take people from first time visitors to plugged in church members, this will happen over and over again. It’s not that the church is full of people who don’t care. That’s not the case at all. It’s a natural result of missing processes and poor systems that result in the right hand being blind to what the left hand is doing.
The church is a place where people come to be a part of something bigger than themselves but is also a place where people are sometimes forgotten. And forgetting to follow up with people will not build the core of your church. We must be intentional and proactive if we really want people to know we care about them.
We talked about four key processes which can really drive deeper member engagement:
- Outreach: invitation, attraction, evangelism
- Assimilation: connecting visitors to your ministry
- Cultivation: driving towards deeper engagement
- Evaluation: How we are doing
All four aspects of the life cycle must be present and function to create a healthy system. The surest sign of a healthy church is when you can clearly trace a first-time guest through the process of becoming a fully engaged member. If my church had been intentional about doing this, I’m sure my friends would not have slipped through the cracks. I know this seems daunting but the right technology can really help make this easier. Providing tools which support each element of those four processes should be a foundational element of any effective Church Management System. If yours can't do it, find one that can!
What processes and systems have you implemented at your church which help drive deeper engagement and keep people from slipping though the cracks?