Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Growing a Church: On the journey...

At King‘s there are people who have come along and are very happy to just stay in our ‘crowd’ and not become members – from time to time we will challenge them to take a further step in.  We have a booklet we give to new people which tells them about our philosophy and includes a diagram which shows the sort of process that people go through.  So if someone’s not a Christian or they’re ‘backslidden’, we will encourage them to go to Alpha. 

There are mid-week groups to join.  They can become involved with a particular ministry and begin to serve quite quickly or they can join a ‘life course’ which could be the Marriage Course or a Parenting Course or our finance seminar – all of which happen on an annual basis. We also run Freedom in Christ which has a more pastoral approach and is for those dealing with life issues and the consequences of the past.  Each of these provides the opportunity for further involvement in church life.

This means that at any given point it should be possible to tell you where every new person is in their journey – all from the data gathered from each ‘Like to Know More’ form that has been completed and given in and our follow-up of those individuals.  It could say this person is involved in Alpha.  That person is on Freedom in Christ.  This person has joined a mid-week group - and it would be possible to go through our list in this way.  This person’s left.  This person’s going to another church.  I can tell you that because we follow them up regularly - it’s not just a ‘one off’ phone call.  We actually stick with that person until we consider they are ‘in’ and connected and they’re established in a mid-week group or they’re part of a ministry.  

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Growing a Church: Connecting...

Once somebody has stepped towards us by giving in a ‘Like to Know More’ form, we will put real effort into trying to help them connect to church life.  The next day - on the Monday - their details will go onto our database. It’s where we record our ‘crowd’, our new people list, and at this point they will be sent a standard letter that thanks them for coming to King’s. On the Tuesday evening our integration team meets at the church office – usually four church members and the team leader. We phone every new person who gave in a form - they will get a phone call asking them, ‘How can we help you further to connect with the church?  What would you like to do?  Would you like to get involved in Alpha?  How about a mid-week group?’  The integration team will have information about all such groups and all the particular ministries.

Our integration team members are selected because they are friendly and can deal with people easily. They will have up-to-date, relevant information ready to pass on to the new person each week.  This process has been going on for some years now and before we started doing it this way we would see perhaps 25% of our new people connecting here and continuing to attend.  After we started doing it, that rate increased to 50% at times and has generally stayed at around 40% of the new people who fill out the form and step towards us in that way. Many others choose to stay in the crowd.  

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Growing a Church: Keeping...

When it comes to Keeping (Engels scale), we run a New Christians group for those who have come to faith, as well as membership groups, mid-week groups and serving groups - all these are ways into a deeper commitment in church life. 

Our integration process is an important element in this.  Once you have reached people and they have come in to the church the process does not end there. For us outreach is not just for reaching the unbeliever and seeing them through to faith, but it’s also reaching the new person, the visitor.  So we would be very, very intentional about reaching new people who come along to our church even if they’ve been Christians for 20 years.  The fact is, people don’t join the church by osmosis - they don’t just ‘join’ and they often need help to know how the process actually works. 

To help we have put together a booklet called ‘Helping New People Join the Church’ - again we took all this material and adapted it from somewhere else, on this occasion - Willow Creek, Bill Hybel’s church. 

A new person comes on a Sunday and we trust that they meet welcoming people right from the start!  They will be encouraged to fill out a ‘Like to Know More Form’ which is always talked about in the welcome in the middle of the meeting.  In the meeting the very first notice is to welcome new people and to ask them to complete the form.  At the end of the meeting they are encouraged to take it to the Welcome Desk - they may think they’re just handing in a form, they are told ‘it helps us to help you get connected’.  That’s true.  ‘If you just want to find out more information, hand in this form’.  If they do so then we see it as being handed a relay baton - the hard work begins at that point! 

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Growing a Church: Reaping...

When the Engel scale moves on to Reaping (becoming a Christian) you need to look at where in your programme you are giving people the opportunity to respond to the gospel.  Where is that point? 

At King’s it used to be the Alpha Saturday and at baptisms. Alpha Saturday still remains for us a major event in this respect but now we would provide that opportunity more frequently – it could be at almost any Sunday meeting.  The statistics go something like this.  Before Lex Loizides started to come to King’s 2% of the people who were saved at King’s were saved through our preaching on a Sunday.  After Lex came and equipped us that became 20%.  Suddenly we had the ability and the confidence to make an appeal more often and see people respond to the gospel.  On other occasions we would get a guest evangelist to come along. 

We run a New Christians group on a Sunday.  It’s not unusual for people who have done Alpha are not yet Christians to then join our New Christians group - but then they become Christians at the New Christians group!  We are sometimes aware that people have not yet made a commitment but we let them go into that group and as a result we’ve seen a number of people that have come to faith there!  The important thing is to provide opportunities for reaping the harvest.