Seems like a weak number doesn’t it?
What can one dollar get you? What can one person committed to a cause do to make a difference?
At first glance it doesn’t seem like much, but consider that everything starts out with the number one. One person with an idea. One loving God to give his life for the sake of the world.
When we first began church planting I worried a lot about numbers. Actually, that’s not entirely true. Church plant after church plant I have worried about numbers, especially related to the number of people who attend each event or service. Now that we are on the brink of starting another new church, I have been reminding myself that it’s important not to worry about those numbers.
During our first church plant our initial informational meeting included John, me, and one other person. The one person who attended became a pastor at that church. At our fifth church plant the first person we met became incredibly important to our team. He did a great job running the sound board, his wife sang beautifully, and together they made a great team hosting events at their house. You never know what God plans to do through one person, so don’t be disappointed if few people show up. With fewer in attendance you will have more time to pour into people in a way that you couldn’t if it were more crowded.
One person can make a big difference in your church plant if you approach them in the right way.
In reflecting on our past church planting experiences, I think there are several things we did to maximize opportunities with each and every person who walked through our doors. As we prepare to plant again, I hope to keep these tips at the forefront of my mind when we begin hosting events.
How to make each encounter with each person count
- Get to know each person in attendance. Whether you’re hosting an event at the park, your own house, or having a church service, it’s critical to listen, ask questions, be attentive and remember details about people’s lives. Sure, the new people want to know about you and what you’re doing, but for people to feel like a part of community, they want to feel known. This takes an unselfish attitude in communicating. Feel free to share about yourself, but I believe in ministry it’s critical to focus on others. I’m going to sound like a broken record, but this is why I tell pastor’s wives it’s important to have someone outside of their ministry to which they can talk. By focusing on others, you’re not being tricky or manipulative. Like I said, feel free to share some stuff about yourself, but remember what you’re doing in planting a church. You’re reaching out to the world for Jesus. If you can focus on knowing others and praying for others, I believe you’ll be doing a more effective job that will result in continued growth.
- Be clear about what you’re doing. When you spend time with each person, they should come away with a clear vision related to what the new church plant is all about. This is why it’s important for each and every person who joins your church plant team to know the vision for the church plant. If the vision is simple, it will be easy to communicate and pass along. People want to be a part of something with a clear vision. After John is done leading church plant meetings I always feel ready to conquer the world. Why is that? Is it because he’s such a great communicator? He’s great, but that’s not why. It’s because he works very hard to have a clear, concise vision statement that he teaches over and over again so that people get it and want to come back. People want to make a difference in this world. When you’re clear about what you’re doing, they will be more likely to come back and bring one more person with them.
- Know what’s happening next. Now that you’ve made a good impression and gotten to know the people who showed up at your first event, it’s important that you know what you’re inviting them to next. When they ask what’s next, it’s not good enough to say, “We’ll see. We’ve got good things in the works. We’ll keep you posted.” That’s great in general, but no matter what your event, you need to invite people to the next thing before they leave. Have flyers or postcards ready. Keep your website up to date. Make sure people know exactly what’s going on so they’re not in the dark. If they know exactly what’s going on they can be more active in the life of your church and become leaders sooner.
- Make each event or service memorable. Just like each person is important, I believe each event and service is important. To make each event special focus on quality and appeal to the five senses. Quality doesn’t have to mean expensive. You can pull off an excellent hot dog bar if you do it correctly. Check out Pinterest for ideas, or make sure you have your best person on the job, but take the time to make each event good. Clear away clutter, make sure there’s enough seating, appeal to the sense of smell and include a variety of textures in decorating. All of these things go into making each event or service memorable.
- Follow up. When people come back it’s important to follow up with them on something you talked about last time you saw them. This shows you’ve been praying for them just like you promised. It shows you care, and it helps you to make deeper relationships.
I’m so happy God has been reminding me that it’s okay if our events start out small. I don’t want to get stuck on the crazy number game where I fret because I made a ton of food and there weren’t enough people to eat it. I want to focus on getting to know people, be clear about what we’re trying to do, and be ready to tell them what’s next. How about you? Have you tried any of these things? What has worked for you? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or e-mail me.
We ask that you will help us to have your perspective when it comes to adding people to our church plants. Each person is so special to you. You died for them. You treasure them. Help us to treasure each and every person who walks through the doors of our homes and our churches. Help us to do your work. We thank you ahead of time for what you are going to do through us!