Our church mission is to connect people to Jesus Christ and to one another. Although a healthy relationship with Jesus is the most important connection we can make, connecting to one another is vital as well.
With Gateway launching a new campus on North Main street in Findlay, I think this is a great time to review some basics about helping the unconnected connect.
Much of what I’m going to share today, you likely already know. But it comes down to: Do we actually do this stuff? Sadly, I forget. You may forget. So, here are some reminders for us:
- Assume someone is looking for connection. We have to be careful about assuming that everyone who comes to Gateway is already connected or already feels connected. That’s just not true. There are many people who come to Gateway--whether it be for the very first time or for 50 times--who just don’t feel connected. The good news is that God has placed you at Gateway to help. So, what should you do? That leads to the next point...
- Consider how others may feel. Those who are unconnected may feel nervous or they may be wondering if anyone will notice them. But everyone who is unconnected has a desire to be accepted. That’s important for us to remember!
- Pay attention to non-verbals. Make sure you make eye contact and smile. A smile goes a long way toward helping others feel welcomed.
- Remember the person by name. Names create a personal connection. So, remembering a person’s name and calling the person by name helps to create a personal connection.
- Ask good questions. Good questions don’t have to be complicated, but they should be intentional. These questions should depend on the relationship you already have with this person. If you’re just meeting the person for the first time, ask some basic questions, such as: What brought you to Gateway? If you’ve spoken with the person before, try to remember previous conversations and ask questions that show you care and want to listen.
- Listen well. Sometimes it’s easy to ask a question and then zone out to think about something else while the person is speaking. Listen well. Listening well will lead you to ask more good questions in the future.
- Focus on Next Steps. We live out our mission as a church by helping people take Next Steps. Our Next Steps at Gateway are: Worship, Connect, Serve, Go. In no way do we want to be inauthentic or overly rigid about our discipleship process, but we do wholeheartedly believe that when people practice living out these four values in the context of the church, they are in a very good place to grow in their connections with Jesus and one another. So, don’t be afraid to invite someone back to worship, walk someone over to meet the pastor or one of the elders. You may want to encourage someone to join a Life Group or to set up a time to meet the person for coffee. We need to help one another focus on our Next Steps.
- Follow up. This is especially important after meeting someone for the first time. You could follow up in various ways. It could be as simple as greeting the person when you see him or her again. You could also write a short note or an e-mail to encourage the person.
Although much of what I’ve shared with you today is basic, it’s important. But most importantly, don’t get overwhelmed by all of this. Pray about what you’ve read. Select one or two of these suggestions to work on. And go for it...because our connections to one another are a vital part of living out our mission as a church.