Dennis Jennings Pastor, Cherry Street Baptist Church, Springfield MO
We made the case in our last post that in order to keep people from “falling through the cracks,” it makes sense for us to equip others – Sunday School teachers, group leaders – people who are willing to help us expand the number of people to whom we effectively minister. We must equip these leaders with the knowledge that ministry looks different for different people – a visitor, a faithful person with needs, an absentee, a prospect, etc. We identified four groups of people each class will minister to in different ways: members; visitors; prospects; and those who have become unresponsive.
In the last post we dealt with the Class Enrollment. This is the ministry list of class members. Every class member has someone who is personally responsible to know them- to find out if they are saved and “provoke them to love and good works.”They are contacted when they are absent. They are prayed for regularly. Someone cares for them and is there for them in their hurts (sickness, death of a loved one, etc.
The next group we want to minister to are our guests. Each class has a Visitors List– This is a discernment list to make sure that new people do not fall through the cracks. They are visited during the same week they attend for the first time with a goal of enrolling them in a class, if possible, using the church’s criteria for adding people to the rolls. An effort should be made to win them to Christ if they are not already a believer. If they already go to another Bible preaching church, or live out of town, etc, they should be removed from the church database and not added to any other ministry list.
The Prospect List is a next step list. These have not yet agreed to be enrolled. These come primarily from the visitors list, although special “prospecting” can be done via events, mailings or door to door efforts. The goal of this list is to stay in touch and make a solid connection. They are still friendly to our church (leaning towards us instead of away from us). This group requires continual “next steps” and follow through. Contacts (visits, texts, mail) for special events or activities will continue to foster the connection. The goal of this list is to enroll them at some point, if possible.
The Mail Only List serves mainly as a way to maintain contact with those class members or prospects (who have not made a connection to another church) and become unresponsive. Contact is maintained by mail (assuming there are regular mailings from the church) and by phone calls a couple of times a year (like Christmas & Easter) just to let them know the church still cares. “I am calling from the church just to see how you are doing. We’d love to have you back again sometime. Is there anything we can pray with you about?” The goal is to keep the bridge intact for them to return to the church family.
Why is this such a big deal? It is much easier to recruit, equip and train effective ministry partners in our classes and small groups if they understand to whom they are ministering and the purpose of their interactions.
The goal is to equip every class member to be involved in reaching and ministering to others. Every guest and every prospect needs someone who is building bridges to them, who knows their spiritual condition and loves them, connected to a class who will minister to their needs. Those who become unresponsive need to have a life-line of love extended to them so that when their circumstances change, they know they can come to the church and people who have demonstrated a caring spirit towards them. These efforts will help “fill in the cracks” and be more effective in ministering to those entrusted to us by the Lord.