Several weeks ago our team sat down to talk about how we can get regular attenders at our church more involved in the life of the church.
People find us in all sorts of ways. We meet them while we’re out evangelizing, they are invited by friends or family, they find us online, or they come to an event we do.
But we noticed that while we had lots of new faces, those new faces weren’t getting involved beyond Sunday mornings. This is a pretty typical issue for many churches in North America. We made some adjustments that I’m excited about.
Time will tell how much they will actually help, but I figured I would share with you what we are doing and I’d love to hear what you have done to get people connected!
One thing we realized is that we really did not have a clear process that guests could look at and say, “Ok, I understand exactly what steps to take if I want to get involved here”.
We have missional communities that we call Lighthouses and we really push involvement in those, but typically our “Strategy” has been to announce them from the front and encourage people to head to the info table for more information or to sign up.
It just wasn’t clear or compelling enough.
Additionally, we were also encouraging people to get into Stages Discipleship Groups or a Volunteer Serve Team. We were giving people too many options. So we simplified things. We decided to give people ONE first step, and then ONE next step, and ONE step after that.
The goal was to make it so clear and easy that there’s no way anyone coming to Fellowship Oshawa couldn’t know how to get involved.
The result was this Connections Pathway.
There are four clear steps for first time guests to make. First, they visit a Lighthouse Small Group (more on that below). After that, they’d get matched up with a disciple-maker at Fellowship Oshawa. Then Volunteer Serve Teams. And from there the next step would be attending a Membership Class as the first step toward membership.
Easy First Step
We also wanted to make that first step, attending a Lighthouse Small Group, really easy. Like many churches (especially in Canada), we’ve had a tough time getting traction with small groups.
So we took a few steps to help involvement increase.
First, we made a “What To Expect At A Lighthouse Small Group” video for our website and to show during announcements. This takes away some of the fear of the unknown for new attenders.
We also started quarterly “Lighthouse Open House” nights. So four times a year, our Lighthouse Small Groups will have a dinner party designed for anyone who wants to come meet the hosts and check out a new Lighthouse.
Many people don’t attend small groups because they are afraid they’ll be the only new people there. At an open house, everyone knows there will be others visiting for the first time. It removes some of the anxiety.
Lastly, we also made Lighthouse Small Group Invite Cards. We have a picture of the host family, the address and time of the Lighthouse Small Group, and a blank box to custom write-in the next meeting date.
We’re giving these cards to every Lighthouse Small Group leader and encouraging them to invite people they encounter on Sunday mornings.
What about you?
Those are some of the steps we’ve taken to help visitors head down the pathway toward volunteer. What about you? What has worked or not worked at your church?
By the way, feel free to head to our church’s website, www.fellowshiposhawa.com, and feel free to browse it for ideas!
I’d also love to hear some feedback!