If you are looking for an effective way to reach and keep parents with young kids, here is a simple tip: Like them. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that we place high value on things we like. The “liked” item get special attention, special talk, special interaction and care.
And that’s how Walmart has treated me. I am not transaction. I am their “friend”. They like me and make life easy for me. In the context then of building a church, how do we “like” people. Here is a list of do’s and don’t’s that should help.
- Ask about “how” people are, not “where” people are. In our Sunday-based world we focus plenty enough on attendance. When folks are missing, I always catch myself asking “Where were they’? Rather, I should have in my mind “How are they”? Alway asking “where” shows short term value. Asking “how are you doing” question denotes that you are concerned about them in the long term.
- Don’t ask a lot of leading questions? Keep them more open ended. Here are a few good questions. “How has the Lord been teaching you lately”, or “What have you been learning from the Word” Here are a few ways not to ask them, “That sure was a good sermon series, wasn’t it”? or “Did you like church today”? Asking leading questions is like a transaction. You get a short simple and shallow answer. Open ended question move you into deeper and better discussions.
- Make time to be a long term relationship person. Making time really means managing better the time we have and cutting out unproductive programs and events. Here are two things we practice at Sinclair Baptist.
- No “staff” goes out to lunch after church. In an “older” church a very bad habit can appear. The After Church Exodus. The pastor stands at the door and shakes hands with everyone who has lined up to exit. In a matter of a few minutes everyone is gone. DON’T DO THIS. Young families (especially new ones) don’t go out to eat. It is costly and one hour of being in public with rambunctious kids was enough. They will, however; stay and talk. Having snacks available before and after services helps this. The kids can all have a muffin and the parents stay and enjoy the beginnings of a long-term relationship.
- Measure and celebrate the elapsed time after church. We call it “Hang Time” and it is recorded each week. This helps us place the emphasis on the virtue we say we value. Our “staff” (Sunday School teachers, secretaries, etc…) routinely hang around and engage in discussion until way over 60 minutes after the services end. No one goes out to eat. They all stay and talk to the young families. Try it. It works.
I must say, I am so glad someone “liked” me some 30 years ago in a little town in Kansas. I am glad they had the margin to take me in. They treated me in along term fashion and I am eternally grateful. Now that you are a leader, take the time to work these things into your evangelism system and let’s make our church younger again!
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