3 Steps To Help People At Your Church Become Connected And Known
By: Jennifer Winge
No matter the size of your church, people need community. We are reminded in Hebrews 10:24-25 how important and challenging community can be: "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." It can be even more challenging as churches grow. Here are three steps to help people feel connected and known as your church grows.
1. Make Your First Connection Count
The "front line" team of a church can go by a variety of different names: Connections Team, Hosts, Greeters, First Impressions, etc. Whatever your team is called, initial contacts matter. I am a huge proponent of parking teams – regardless of the size of your church.
It isn’t about parking cars, it is about making people feel at ease and wanted as they come on the church property. Whether the team is stationed in the parking lot, at the front doors, at your Kids Ministry check-in, or in the sanctuary, they need to be the people who always have a welcoming smile for those coming into the church. This team is not made up of behind the scenes quiet folks. This team is made up of the friendliest people in your church. They will lead a casual attender toward community.
"It isn’t about parking cars, it is about making people feel at ease and wanted as they come on the church property."
2. Ensure People Are Known
Have you ever walked into a place you frequent and the person you see every time acts like you are a complete stranger? It's frustrating. Why? Because we desire and expect to be known. I recently was in Georgia and went to the nail salon I frequented prior to us moving two years ago. To say I had built a friendship with those folks would not be true. I am an in-and-out girl and a little small talk would be the extent of our relationship, but I have spent a good bit of time in that shop over the years. The owner of the shop looked at me and said, “I haven’t seen you in forever. You moved about two years ago, right? I was blown away she would not only remember me, but knew when I moved. I left a pretty good tip for no other reason than how it made me feel to still be known.
Some people are great with names. I am not. I have to be intentional when trying to remember names, if they have kids, or where they said they were headed for vacation over the summer. Calling a person by name when you have only met them once or twice makes them feel known and like they belong. When we teach our teams to remember people it creates a sense of belonging and community. It may be as simple as saying, “It is great to see you again” or “I missed seeing you last week.” This is where follow up processes can be a helpful tool to ensure people don’t fall through the cracks.
3. Pour Into Deep Relationships
We can’t have deep relationships with everyone. And there are few things worse than a person trying to connect with someone because of an obligation. It is disingenuous and motivated by the wrong reasons. What we can do, however, is build the relationships that come naturally to us. Both of my sons have had the privilege to be a part of the wedding of their Middle School Small Group Leaders. It shows a depth of relationship when they had a leader who connected with them in community. Those relationships matter and transcend time and distance.
Community is a process. As we try to navigate the complexities of creating a culture of authentic community, we have to remember it is something developed over time. It starts with a first impression and, if we're intentional, can turn into a meaningful, Christ-centered community that helps us (and others) grow.
What effective ways have you found for cultivating community in your church?