In order to connect with people, we need to encourage and love them. If we dig in and look at the word encouragement from its Greek origin, “Oikodomē,” it is defined as the act of building, building up, edifying, edification. Think of encouraging with the intent of connecting as building brick by brick. In my college years, I heard the analogy of how communicating with people was like building a brick building. For every good word/uplifting conversation, one brick was laid in the relationship. For every poor choice word/argument not only was one brick not added, but it also blew out the surrounding bricks. I think there is at least one cartoon visual that comes to mind with this analogy, and it should because then it will stick with us and remind us of the weight and impact of our words in passing and as we ultimately connect with our congregants to get to know them.
With so many people in a large church, connecting personally with them feels overwhelming. But as the old saying goes, you can eat an elephant one bite at a time. How to Connect Personally When You Can’t Know Everyone spells out four ideas and the corresponding actions in order to start connecting with intention today:
Be in a small group
Weekends are busy. There are so many things to do and oversee. Part of leading a church staff usually means no chance to be in a small group. This isn’t leading one; it’s attending one with your spouse. Be a church member, not just a staff member.
Action: Make time to regularly attend a small group. This may mean adjusting your weekend schedule or delegating responsibilities but prioritize this.
Enable your staff opportunities to be in small groups
Your entire staff should be in a small group. Logistically this may mean starting new groups at times they can attend, like Sunday night, Tuesday night, and so on. Support them with whatever they need to make it happen, like finding additional volunteers or shifting responsibilities. Small groups let you and your staff be known as people, not just leaders.
Action: Enable every staff member to attend a group. Shift what needs to be changed so this happens.
Volunteer in something outside of your role
There’s almost always something extra on the horizon. Whether it’s a mission opportunity, special event, or something else. When these arise, be a volunteer. Encourage your staff to volunteer. Let them serve as church members, not staff members. Often they have skills beyond their job descriptions that support the work of the church. This also gives people a chance to see the staff in new ways.
Action: Look at the event calendar for the next quarter. Decide how you and the staff can volunteer for at least one event.
Show up to “that” restaurant for breakfast
Older adults can be your biggest advocates. (In How to Connect Personally: Starts at the Top, advocates are highlighted as a wonderful asset for you, your family, and your ministry leadership.) This helps you be made known to folks you may not personally know. It’s not uncommon for older adults, especially men, to routinely meet for breakfast at the same place every week. Show up occasionally- they’ll be glad to have you!
Action: Find out where “that” restaurant is for breakfast or lunch, then show up. They won’t turn you down.
Connecting with people requires intention. We can move so quickly through our day that we forget or simply run out of time to build relationships brick by brick with people in our congregation and community. A previous blog, How to Connect Personally: Four Common Mistakes, sheds great insight and addresses what we’ve all been guilty of doing, intentionally or not, as people-related problems just seem to multiply before we can have a plan of action for connection. These connections only grow more difficult as the church grows. Prioritizing this connection, though, sets us up for a stronger church.
People follow who they know. As a ministry leader, they look to you for vision, spiritual direction, and biblical teaching. But a large church creates more demands on your time and more people to meet. The latest resource, How to Connect Personally When You Can’t Know Everyone along with the other guides in the Know and Grow: Solutions to Large Church Problems, show paths 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!
As the Vice President of Marketing for ACS Technologies’, John is responsible for Marketing’s overall corporate strategy and direction. Storyteller, promoter, problem solver to churches of all sizes and shapes. John has traveled the world working with prominent non-profit ministries. He also serves on the board of directors for Dayspring International.