Things Just Aren’t The Same As Before
Needless to say, the last few years have been a bumpy ride. As the Lord has led out of this pandemic together, it’s not hard to see that things are different.
Our experiences throughout this time have shaped or changed many people’s views, perspectives, opinions, habits, hobbies, likes, dislikes, and so much more.
Churches have struggled to reconnect with those who were, at one point, members and regular attenders.
To add to it, trying to engage with a community that may now be vastly different has resulted many times in church leaders being left guessing at what outreach efforts are going to help them thrive again.
Don’t Fear, There Is Good News!
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” – Galatians 6:9
We haven’t given up and people are coming back to church again, but sitting in your pews now or watching online are many new faces that are seeking community, fellowship, and newer or stronger Christ centered relationships, so feed them!
It’s simple. You need to be able to understand the same things about the makeup of your church and your community.
To follow our commandment given in Mark 12:31 and “love your neighbor as yourself”, we have to first know our neighbor, so how do we accomplish this in today’s world?
Here are some ways to help:
1. Doing demographic research.
Demographic research involves gathering information regarding: population, average age, education, marital status, number of persons per household, gender, ethnicity, etc. Be aware of any pieces of information that make your community unique, then examine how you can effectively reach those populations.
2. Take note of how many church plants are in your community.
Evaluate what other churches and church plants are in your community right now. Who is doing well (growing)? Who is struggling? Get to know and pray for these pastors and their churches. Look for opportunities to partner in ministry with them. Connect with other pastors and become a support system as you seek to reach your community together. For those who are doing well, consider what similar changes you can make to be more effective as you serve those around you.
3. Do a neighborhood survey.
Develop a survey that you can administer to those in the neighborhoods surrounding your church. Ask questions about the community, felt needs, spiritual questions, views of the church, etc. Using a survey can assist you in learning more about those in your immediate area that you are seeking to reach.
4. Be a networker.
Resist the temptation to spend all your time in your study or church office. Get out into your community. Hold your non-confidential business meetings in local coffee shops, parks, or restaurants. Meet and get to know the pastors, local politicians, the mayor, city council members, etc. Go to community events and listen to the voices of those in your community. Make sure you understand the issues your city/town is facing. Being out in the community will help you understand your community better.
Time To Nurture Existing Friendships & Build New Ones
Now that you have a better understanding of who your church and community are, being able to have events or serve the community in ways or areas that cater to and resonate much deeper with everyone opens up the doors to new ways to minister.
I’ll insert a great story here from a few weeks ago that was shared by a friend who is the children’s director at a local church in a small South Carolina town.
After doing demographic research on their small community, they were surprised to find that it was much more probable that having an art camp this year instead of having the traditional VBS would yield a larger turnout.
Well, their art camp numbers from this year tripled their VBS numbers from last year, and moving forward, they’ll be able to have events and ministries that serve the wants and needs that are specific to their community.
You can have a story like that too.
Get Involved – understand the things your church body and community care about most invest your time, talent, and efforts there.
Interact – setup smaller, more specific events that are geared more towards a certain group of people to help establish a connection in a more personal setting.
Respond – make sure you have solid processes or tools for your church leaders or volunteers to follow up with or communicate with the people you’ve connected with.
Like I wrote at the top, a lot has changed in the last few years, so we’ve got to get used to new and sometimes even uncomfortable ways of ministering to people.
We are still getting to show God’s love and teach the gospel, but more than likely to a church and community that are slightly, or maybe even greatly different than they may have been a few years ago, so enjoy building new relationships.
Through it all, be joyful, because this is the day that the Lord has made, I WILL REJOICE and be glad in it!
Kris joined our ACST family in 2019 and now serves as an Enterprise Account Executive. One of the things he’s most passionate about is impacting the Kingdom of God, so in his current role, he is fulfilled by being able to help churches leverage technology to overcome their own complex or unique challenges so they can be more successful. Outside of ACST, he enjoys serving in various roles at his home church and being involved in local charities and events.