Nine times out of ten the reason we do this is to get people to sign up or come to the programs and ministries we are doing at church. That’s not a bad thing in itself, but it’s not enough to engage people for lifelong faith formation. And doesn’t it seem like it is getting harder and harder to get people to come to the church building. And we know that as people get busier throughout the year it’s only going to get harder.
How about a different approach?
Church, home, community, and online. All four of these places provide numerous opportunities for fostering relationships. And you and I know that God uses relationships to bring God’s love to the world. So consider these four locations as your church launches another program year:
- Church – Of course this is a no-brainer, but it seems that many churches consider this the only place that relationships can happen. But we can’t make showing up at the church the end goal. So when you plan gatherings that take place at church ask: How do the connections here lead to continued relationships “out there” the other 6 days of the week? Do you care more about getting people to sign up than you do about what’s happening in their lives? When you take the time to get to know them, they will be more likely to trust you and give you their time.
- Home – The congregation is a partner with the home in forming faith. Not only do we believe it but we know that when it happens people are more likely to grow in their faith and faith becomes central to daily living. Are your ministries set up to connect families and households on other days of the week? Do your ministries connect families that develop into friendships and support networks? Is your Rally Sunday a springboard to connecting households and parents so they develop a support network in their daily lives?
- Community – Much of our lives are lived out in the community, especially if you are a family involved in sports or the arts, which means you are running somewhere almost every night of the week. We often forget that God is present in those times and places as well. How is the church present and connecting with people out in the community at various events and venues?
- Online – Does your congregation see your presence online as a place for relationship? The world of the internet provides many opportunities for connection and fostering relationships. How about bringing your Rally Day online by using Facebook Live or Periscope to connect with those who aren’t actually on your campus? Highlight belonging, friendship, and connection as you create online content and people will engage.
Not only is Sunday an opportunity for building relationships but the other 6 days of the week provide multiple points of connection with people. If we focus all our energy and resources on one day a week then we convey the message that the rest is not that important. Yet, it’s in the daily ebb and flow of real life that people need to sense and experience the presence of God through all kinds of relationships.
May we be a church that follows God through relationships in all places and spaces.