Archive for outreach

The Work (Involve the Guest in Group Ministry)

Nothing makes someone feel more a part of a group than being involved in shared experiences.  Ministering to others should be part of your group’s mission, but a great byproduct is helping a guest feel more connected.  Make sure the guest is aware of opportunities to serve and all the details.  Have a member offer to drive the guest to the ministry location or offer to meet them at a specific spot.

Ask staff members what needs there may be in the church.  Your group could organize, restock, and refurbish a Children’s Resource Room or other Children’s Space.  You could help with Senior Adult Ministry or offer child-care for a Young Adult Event.  Have your members make cards that can be used in multiple ministries.

Look outside the church for ways to minister as well. Is there a local food bank where you could go to help pack boxes or an Assisted Living Home where you could go to sing hymns, play games, or just sit and talk with the residents?  Find homeless shelters and offer to minister or talk with a local high school and offer to work the concession stand so that parents can watch their own children play at athletic events.  Offer to build wheel-chair ramps to those who may suddenly need them.

Simply gathering items to be given to a ministry doesn’t help a guest be a part of a shared experience so be sure you’re truly ministering and not just “gathering” items so that someone else can minister. Use the ministry as an opportunity to have gospel conversations with those you encounter.

Jenni Carter is a State Missionary at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.

The Heart (How to Minister to A Guest)

We should always anticipate guests. This means we have a plan from the time a guest comes to our building until they are an intricate part of our group and church. Here are a few points that will help us better minister to our guests.

  • Have a meal with them. There is just something about food and relationship. Breaking bread together helps us become familiar with those who are new to us and helps us build those first relationships with others in our group.
  • Connect with social media and texting. Become friends on Facebook and other avenues of social media. We can learn more about them, and they can learn about us as well. Texting also is a form of conversation and is part of how many communicate. Let’s communicate.
  • Learn about their personal life. We need to be sincerely interested in the lives of our guests. Understanding who they are on this level allows for greater ministry opportunities.
  • Introduce them to others. Common interests bring people together. As we learn more about our guests, connect them with others in the group that have similar interests.
  • Follow-up with the ministry need. When ministry needs are discovered in someone’s life, rally the group to minister to that individual or family. This helps them to know that they are an important part of the group.
  • Invite them to the unofficial class social. Many groups have socials for everyone to attend. It is common to see a few people getting together on their own to eat out or do some other social activity. When the guest gets invited to these outings, they are now included in the group.

Everyone needs and deserves ministry. We need be intentional about our ministry to others, especially our guests.

Mike Taylor is a State Missionary for Adult Groups and Faith Development at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.

The Return (Inviting Guests to Come Back)

Getting in the diamond with your guests may be easier than you think! If you are going to succeed with your group, relationships are extremely important. You want to know you are connecting with guests, and ensure that your relationship is inside their circle of awareness. So what does that look like/mean?

Most group leaders make a follow-up phone call and most churches send a letter. It would seem that leaders are concerned about getting too close too soon, when we actually want to get close quickly. We want our guests to come back next week!

In contrast, I have learned most people come back to a group if there was more than a call or letter. Numerous times a guest has told me they came back because someone in the group:

  • Visited them
  • Invited them to lunch
  • Invited them to a fellowship activity
  • Invited them to go to an event with them
  • Offered to sit with them in worship

Three weeks ago, we had guests in our group and I was thrilled to see what happened:

  • The group leader took time for everyone to introduce themselves.
  • As the group dismissed at least three families went over to get better acquainted.
  • One family sat with them during worship.
  • I heard a family invite them to lunch even though they had several children.

By the way, they came back, and stayed for a church fellowship on their second Sunday.

Tom Belew is the Small Groups & Childhood Specialist for the California Southern Baptist Convention.

The Front Porch (What To Do On A Home Visit)

Don’t give up on the home visit just yet! Many church leaders today think visiting prospects and inactive members simply does not work anymore. This may be true in some situations like gated communities and some apartment complexes. Perhaps front porch visitors these days are not always invited in for coffee and cake, but some meaningful conversations can still take place.

For one thing, knocking on someone’s front porch door is a way of showing the person/family that you care enough to go to the trouble of driving to their home and checking on them. It’s more personal than a phone call, text, email, card or letter. Eye contact is a good thing.

Maybe the goal of a front porch visit should be to simply show you care – your Sunday School class, Small Group, or church – is interested in you and your family. It’s always a good idea to leave a Bible study or devotional book or magazine, with their name typed on a mailing label stuck on the cover.

My church recently sent me and two others to go door-to-door, telling people we were praying for their neighborhood and how we could pray for them. It went like this: first house, serious illness for grandchild; second, lady going through a divorce; third, lady taking care of her husband with dementia; fourth, single mom dealing with rebellious daughter; and last, a lady taking care of her sister recovering from surgery.

There are many needs and hurts behind those front door porches. Most will never be addressed without the front porch home visit.

Jeff Ingram is the Adult Ministry Strategist for Louisiana Baptists.

The Phone Call (What to Say On A Follow-Up Call)

BEFORE CLASS: James came to your church for Sunday School. He was brought to class by the Sunday School greeter who shared James’ registration form.

The class greeter welcomed James and introduced him to the class. No one embarrassed James by asking him to speak out loud. James had a good experience during class. Several spoke to James as class ended.

AFTER CLASS: The class greeter walked James to a restroom and worship. In worship, the greeter sat with James and introduced him to some of those around them. At worship end, the greeter tells James he enjoyed spending time together and invites him back to class.

WITHIN 72 HOURS: Bob, a member of the class, contacts James by phone. Bob thanks James for being in class. They share a couple of comments about the lesson and the group. Bob then asks James if he has any questions about the class or the church.

After answering James’ questions, Bob invites James to a class fellowship planned in a couple of weeks. He even offers transportation.

Bob then asks how he can pray for James and his family. Bob writes down what James shares. Then Bob asks permission to pray with James. When James agrees, Bob prays for James and his requests.

Bob closes the call by thanking James again for coming to class and says he hopes to see him again Sunday. James is more likely to return because care was expressed!

Darryl Wilson is the Sunday School and Discipleship Consultant at the Kentucky Baptist Convention.