(continuation to the Defining Statements series)
One of the things we find ourselves doing in professional vocational church work is putting together a set of well designed programs then pointing people toward our programing so they can walk the yellow brick road of discipleship and we can walk away with the feeling that we’ve done our job. The problem is….many of the people we set off in the direction we think they should go….don’t necessarily need what we just offered them.
Example….The other day I was working in our NEXT environment and 5 minutes into the conversation I had to ask a couple if they were married. I was just about to point them toward our singles events and our men’s/ladies groups because all signs pointed toward them being single….when in fact they are married. (Don’t get me started on trying to figure out the couple who defines themselves as a couple and want to be in a married group but they’re not married?)…probably another post.
One of our defining statements at New Life is, “Read people before you direct people”. If we truly want what’s best for the person we’re talking to, we will read them and find out about them before pointing them in the direction we think they should go. If we care more about our program and the environment we created…then we’ll simply shove them into the mold we made and hope for the best. Side note…any environment that you have to shove someone in….will NOT last for them. It must be natural. There needs to be an urgency for them to want to move in that direction. You need to ask some key leading questions that open up the conversation to learning more about them.
Example: How long have you been coming to New Life? What did you like best about the service today? Describe some of the church environments you’ve experienced before? Why did you come to church today? That last question might seem a little direct…but asked at the right time is a very powerful question. Likely, everyone who is at your church….made a very conscious decision to get up, get dressed, & drive down to church today. Let’s ask what they’re looking for? Maybe we can help them find it.
Final point: If your going to work on reading people before directing them…make sure you have somewhere to direct them once you discover their need. If a single mom is standing in front of you with a desperate need to have someone watch her 4 year old for 60 minutes so she can have 60 minutes of peace while listening to your pastor…..make sure you have the absolute best environment for her 4 year old. It would be despicable if we dropped the ball at that moment.