Connections Ministry 5.1 Clear Next Steps

This is the fifth of five chapters in a 25 part blog series titled: The Five Elements of a Fully Implemented Connections Strategy, published over a five week period. Everything I have posted here is the result of my own personal experiences, from serving on church staffs, volunteering as a lay leader, and being brought in as a paid consultant. It is my hope that these posts will help you and your church get better at connecting with guests, not simply to increase your attendance and membership, but ultimately to grow the body of Christ. Implementing a Connections strategy (or “Assimilation” strategy) is a long term process, and one that relies on a culture of continual improvement. This chapter has five entries, which will all be linked below the post as they are published.

Serving Together. Connections Ministry is all about connecting people to Jesus. We work hard at our first impressions, and focus our efforts on making a personal connection with every guest. We want to see new people and their families connect in our small groups, and to see them serving together alongside the rest of us. Those are the types of results we can measure; this is how we know we’ve connected.

Chapter 4 was all about connecting guests in community through small groups. Aside from building relationships in a community of other believers, we are called to serve others as we make disciples of all nations. Here are some ways to invite guests and regular attendees to serve together in our mission to make disciples.

If you're new to the game, someone needs to show you where to tee off
If you’re new to the game, someone needs to show you where to tee off

5.1 Clear Next Steps. Having great opportunities isn’t effective when people don’t know what to do or how to begin.

Having a clearly understood set of next steps is crucial to any Connections Process. If you don’t take the time to be excellent here, you’re going to lose the very people that would love to join you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone disappointed they didn’t have a way to get more involved at a church, only to hear the leadership say they need more people involved.

The problem isn’t that people are lazy. Be real. Nobody is getting up early on their day off, getting kids dressed and out of bed, and then coming to your church out of laziness. Truth is, there just might be a lack of clear next steps. Your next steps might exist, and they may be simple to understand, but there are many reasons why hardly anyone understands what they are.

Reasons Your Next Steps Aren’t Clear:

  • You mention them once from the stage and never again.
  • You mention them on stage, give out all the needed information, and announce 12 other things in full detail as well.
  • Your guest services folks are’t sure about the next steps to serve.
  • Your staff/key leaders don’t know what to do when someone asks if they can serve.
  • Your staff/key leaders aren’t good at returning phone calls, email, etc.
  • There’s no plan. Only a last minute desperate plea for help. Every. Time.

You can totally fix this. Most churches have a lot of growth opportunity in the above areas. But never settle for that. Don’t look around at what other churches are up to and stop innovating and leading. Connections Ministry is externally focused; always look for ways to connect better!

Some tips for clear next steps:

  • Don’t spring things last minute. Instead, take the time to promote the most important things. We’ll talk about this in the next few posts.
  • Don’t flood people with information but stay focused on one or maybe two different opportunities at the most.
  • Tell people EXACTLY what they need to do, how, and when, and repeat it many times, using printed materials, electronic media, spoken words from the stage, and creative promotional pieces; you want to cover everyone’s listening and learning style.
  • Do not allow for anyone to be confused; it may make sense to you, but you’re not the one we’re promoting to. Seriously: don’t shake your head and mutter when someone doesn’t seem to understand what is so obvious to you. Remember WHY: the next steps are just as much for the people as they are to build up your organization.

NEXT: Chapter 5.2 A Visible Presence


Main Series Page: The Five Elements of a Fully Implemented Connections Strategy

Element Five: Serving Together

5.1 Clear Next Steps

5.2 A Visible Presence

5.3 Offer Opportunities

5.4 Pastoral Invitation

5.5 Special Church-Wide Events

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