The Church Workers Handbook is filled with practical information that you may not have learned in Bible college or seminary. If you haven't already learned this information in the school of hard knocks, you need this series of blogs. This will be information for anyone who serves in any capacity in a church (from senior pastor up to janitor).
Ed and Nancy Lint
Edwin Lint, BS, ThB, MA
Much of the Drawbridge content is political in general and anti-Obama in particular.
I am still convinced that Obama is America's worst president, bar none. However, I have decided to give Obama a rest on the Sundays of 2012 and concentrate on spiritual and/or educational content, only.
Today, I am continuing a series of blogs based on my book Church Workers Handbook.
Last Sunday, I presented Ten Commandments for worship leaders
Today, I will share Chapter 5 Creating True friendship in Your Church
This book is available at the DiskBooks Electronic Publishing Free Downloads in pdf format.
If you wish to download the entire pdf file of 205 pages, click this link: Church Workers Handbook
The individual chapters are shown in the Table of Contents: [html format]
Chapter 5 Creating True friendship in Your Church
The smile is bright, the handshake is firm, and the voice is warm. And then it's over, all in less than five seconds. The locale is the vestibule of any number of evangelical churches and this little scenario is played out over and over again. Just a long succession of five-second friendships, one after another. Some of these five-second friendships may be during the service while everyone is invited to move around and shake hands, usually while singing a song like "The Family of God."
Maybe your church has interesting services and beautiful facilities. Your pastor may be a strong Bible teacher and your church may offer an active program. But what about the friendship? Is too much of it of the five-second variety, at least for visitors and those not closely associated with the church?
The growing practice of stationing "greeters" at the entrances of the church is creating opportunities for two-second friendship. These well-meaning greeters are asked to extend a smiling handshake to all who enter.
Self-Evaluation Check List
Take a few minutes and measure the friendship Quotient of your church. Score your congregation on a scale of 5 to 1, with 5 being Usually and 1 being Seldom.
5-4-3-2-1 Do you have assigned and trained greeters who meet people as they come in?
5-4-3-2-1 Do you have a system for registering first-time visitors?
5-4-3-2-1 Do you have an organized system of follow-up for each registered visitor?
5-4-3-2-1 Do you have an organized friendship program which is specifically designed to integrate new constituents into the social fabric of the congregation?
5-4-3-2-1 Do you take an inventory of the training and experience of new persons in your constituency?
5-4-3-2-1 Do you have a "safety net" for assuring that no individual or family goes through a time of great need without the spiritual and material support of the congregation?
5-4-3-2-1 Do you have organized age-group activities which are designed to touch the lives of all constituents on a frequent basis?
5-4-3-2-1 Do you have a new converts support and training program?
5-4-3-2-1 Do you have a spiritual crisis-intervention program?
Now, how did your church score? There are no national norms for this little self-evaluation quiz but a perfect score is 50. If you scored your church below 40, it may be failing in some important friendship responsibilities.
Let's discuss each of the items on the quiz:
Everyone should greet visitors with a smile and the right hand of friendship. However, what is everyone's responsibility may become no none's responsibility. Therefore, it is important to assign persons to the specific job of helping visitors feel at home. Give these greeters a written job description, and train them in how to carry out their duties. The smile and the handshake are just one small part of the greeter's responsibility. The primary duties and responsibilities can include the following:
A. Learn the faces and names of the regular attendees so visitors may be spotted and greeted. In a large congregation, it will be next to impossible to identify every visitor and never greet a regular attendee as a visitor. However, an effort should be made to this end.
B. Help parents of small children find the nursery, junior church, and Christian education facilities. The greeter must know or have access to the appropriate destination of each person in the family.
C. Get assistance for an elderly worshipper who may need help with stairs or even walking. Be aware of assistance the church can provide for persons with disabilities, such as aids for the hearing impaired or wheelchairs.
The Art of Shaking Hands
Believe it or not, there is a right and wrong way to shake hands.
Do - - -
Don't - - -
Never touch a baby's hand when you're shaking hands with visitors!!! A baby's hand is frequently in the mouth. You don't want all the germs you have collected from the last several dozen hands you have shaken to be transmitted to the baby's mouth.
A practical method of visitor registration should be developed which is appropriate for the physical layout and traffic patterns of your church. However it is done, no first-time visitor should walk out your door within leaving a written record of some kind. One church our family has attended takes attendance by passing attendance pads down each pew. Each person attending is asked to print his/her name and give a phone number. During the early part of the week, the pastoral staff goes over these lists and contacts each person who is new to the constituency.
Organized Visitor follow-up
Every first-time visitor who lives within reasonable driving distance of your church should receive a follow-up within the coming week. A form letter, even when generated by a computer to include a personalized salutation, barely meets the definition of follow-up if that's all the visitor gets. A nice balance is a phone call from the pastor or a member of the staff plus a personal visit from someone who lives in the same general area as the visitor. As a general rule, visitors expect someone from the church office to contact them. However, a personal visit from a reasonably close neighbor will have maximum impact.
Organized Friendship Program
This is the most important element of your church friendship program. It's only listed fifth here because in the chronological sequence of events, the other four occur first. Of course, the operant word here is "organized". Left to their own devices, your parishioners will friendship with each other after a fashion. They will gravitate into quartets and small groups for out-of-church activities. However, a lack of structure and organization makes it difficult for the new person or family to integrate. As stated above, what everyone should do no one may end up doing. An organized friendship program is so critical because the evangelical life style carries basic prohibitions against the very activities which the nonbeliever considers to be the foundations stones of social activity: drinking in bars and dancing. Since human beings are naturally gregarious and need social interaction, the church must provide a social life which replaces what the world considers to be normal social activity. An action plan for providing organized friendship activities might include the following elements:
A. When you register visitors, get key information which will be needed in helping them fit into the social life of the church. Include such things as age range, marital status, type of employment, ages of children, and favorite leisure time activities.
B. Recruit persons and families from among your regular constituents who are interested in making new friends. Make sure you have information on these members of your friendship team which parallels that which you collect from visitors.
C. Match the interests of visitors with members of the church "friendship team."
D. Facilitate friendship activities based on the commonalties of the new people and the members of your friendship team.
This kind of a computerized friendship program is similar to commercial dating services which match persons of comparable interests.
The following list of database fields are an example of what your database can look like. Adapt these fields to meet your own needs. The comments for various fields can help you customize your database.
Last Name: If you have both a first name and a last name field, you can sort by last name only.
City, State, Zip: If your constituency covers more than one city or state, you will need separate fields for City, State, and Zip.
Occupation or School: If you include the name of schools, you can sort your children by school attended.
Date of Birth:
Date of First Contact
Date First Attended
Salutation: You may want to address children by first name and adults in a more formal way.
Other Church Activity:
Hobbies, Special Interests: You may want to expand these last two fields to include many variables. This is how you can sort your records by commonality of interests and activities. This kind of expanded database will be needed to maintain the Inventory of Training and Experience described below.
Inventory Of Training And Experience
The best way to make persons feel welcome in your congregation is to give them something meaningful to do which draws on their experience and training. And, the best way to ask people to do things is to find out what they already know how to do. During the early 60's I ran a training class for Civil Defense emergency shelter managers. While I'm thankful none of my students needed the training I gave, I did learn an important lesson from the training. The first thing a shelter manager was to do after his/her charges had assembled in a shelter was to take a complete inventory of who knew how to do what. In the face of a real emergency, it would be extremely important to know such things as who knew something about medicine, who knew how to work with children, and who had leadership experience.
Use normal discretion in recruiting new people to work in your church.
1. Baby Christians should be weaned off the bottle of the Milk of the Word before they are involved in programs designed to help other Christians to grow.
2. Use your state or community's background check for persons who will be working with children. If your state or community has no formal background check, develop one of your own. You can't run the risk of recruiting people to work with children who have a history of posing a threat to the sexual or physical welfare of children.
3. Develop a screening process for all new church workers. Include a panel of church leaders and include some people who specialize in this kind of work in the community.
4. Include a probation period when a new person is "hired". Remember, it may be far easier to deny "permanent status" to a prospective "employee" who is less than satisfactory than to dismiss an established "employee" who is proving to be unacceptable.
Family "Safety Net"
No evangelical church would knowingly allow a person or family in need of support to go through a time of stress without offering some kind of aid. However, as a church grows larger, the chances for such a need to go unnoticed increases. Therefore, the church must organize a support network which is designed to identify persons in need and the type of assistance required. A casserole, a baby-sitter, or a custom taxi can be just what is needed to help an individual or family over a rough spot.
The key to such a safety net is organization. One large church in a metropolitan area broke the congregation down by zip codes. Each Zip code had a leader and a crew of assistants who identified needs and recruited volunteers. Help was provided exactly where it was needed with minimum effort on the part of any one individual.
Organized Age-Group Activities
Evangelicals are exhorted to "come out from among them and be ye separate". However, there is a big difference between being separate and being alone. Being separate may reduce the degree to which our spiritual sensitivities are eroded. Being alone is depressing. Therefore, the church must facilitate group activities which are both spiritually safe and socially stimulating. Children, teens, young adults, parents-- everyone can profit from getting together for fun and relaxation. Some of these group activities are spontaneous and need no organizational stimulus from the church. For those persons not included in spontaneous activities, the church must provide planning and execution through the Sunday school, youth organization, or singles ministries.
Organized Home Bible Study
The first-century Christian church didn't exist, not as a building, that is. These early Christians worshipped in each other's homes. All Christians should study the Bible in personal devotions. And certainly all should go to church. However, there's something special about getting together in each other's homes to study the Bible. Of course you'll have to encounter certain obstacles such as baby-sitting, limiting refreshments, and observing the New Testament warning about idle gossip.
New Converts Support And Training Program?
You may want to review a book I have on the Web titled First Steps: The Care and Feeding of Baby Christians. This book was first written during the early 70s while I has operating a mobile shopping mall witnessing program. However, the content is appropriate for supporting and training new converts.
Spiritual Crisis-Intervention Program
We've all seen the 9-1-1 dramatizations of what happens when there's a medical or physical crisis of some kind. Every church should have a spiritual 9-1-1 operation which is poised to spring into action at a moment's notice in a time of need. Emergency Medical Technicians spend enormous amounts of time and energy to provide the person power needed to make a 9-1-1 system operational, to sustain physical life. And the Bible calls physical life a vapor, or hay. Can we do any less to sustain the eternal soul?
These e-mail letters from readers of this chapter sure made me think. I recommend you read about some lonely people.
My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will seek out the author of this letter and apply the Balm of Gilead to her lonely heart as well as the hearts of her husband and family. May the rest of us pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us in all our interpersonal relationships so this kind of thing doesn't happen in our churches. gel
End of Letters
This blog provides conservative information on political, spiritual, economic, educational and social issues Monday through Saturday.
On Sunday, the content is spiritual and educational only.
|Jesus said: What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. Luke 12:3|
|If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)|