A growing church is exciting! More people means impact, more opportunity, and more ministry. More people also means more people—in other words, crowds. No matter how hard we try, it’s easy for someone to get lost. Instead of feeling meaningful connections with others, they feel overlooked. Churches thrive when people feel connected and known. Big churches feel small when everyone feels known.
Churches are commenting on insight found in Big Church Made Small: Make Everyone Feel Known and in the reality that, “Making a big church feel small is a culture shift. These things may take time. That’s ok. Start small.” Does anyone else feel some relief about starting small? We can all make and take small steps that, when linked together, build a path to build relationships and encourage discipleship.
Small steps to make people feel known:
First connections count
Be authentic and warm.
Calling a person by name after you have only met them once or twice makes them feel known and like they belong.
There are general questions such as, “Married? Children? Student?” But dive in a bit more with more personal but still somewhat general questions like, “How long have you lived here?” or “What makes you laugh?” or “How’d you hear about this event/service” or “Hey, that popcorn smells good- would you like some?” while walking in that direction.
After you ask the question, listen to the answer. Be slow to speak and don’t interrupt. How can you connect with what they’ve shared?
And listen intently
Nonverbal body signals completely matter and are just as important to your conversation and, more importantly, the lasting impression.
Recognize their qualities
Make mental notes of them and also verbally express them.
Tell and show
Let them know you’re happy to have met and introduce them to someone else so the three of you can continue the conversation.
I think we agree that these are small and simple actions on our part to make people feel known within our church community; but, we shouldn’t underestimate their power to keep us focused on getting to know people and for them to feel known and start putting down roots. They want a place to belong. It’s a core need we all share. My son just shared an infographic with us from his university psychology theory class showing the hierarchy of human needs and how the desire to be known, loved, and needed is fundamental to our existence.
Church is a place where people expect to be known. We are reminded in Hebrews 10:24-25 of the importance of investing in our community: “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.” Faith is such a personal thing, and as we discovered these past months during covid, it’s nearly impossible to practice it in isolation. So let’s be the intentional people who want to know others.
I’ll close out with this familiar saying, “It just has that hometown feeling” which makes us think of a place away from the hustle and bustle of life where people wave to each other and then actually stop and talk for a few minutes before they decide to pop into the coffee shop and catch up. I believe that The Church can be like that, too. We just need to remember that we are called to build the Kingdom with a Christ-centered community of people who genuinely know each other.
Big Church Made Small: Make Everyone Feel Known
Being a larger church does create more opportunities, but it also creates more ways for people to get lost. People should feel known at church. Our latest resource, Big Church Made Small: Make Everyone Feel Known shows a path you and your team can follow. And, to make it even easier and so you don’t miss any of our Church Growth Resources, you can also receive our ministry blog posts straight to your inbox!
Dean is ACS Technologies’ VP of Corporate Operations. He is responsible for Information Technology and all campus facilities. Born and raised in South Carolina, He has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems Management. He serves on the board and in leadership for a few local non-profit organizations. His passions include helping others succeed.