7 Tips to move people off the bench and onto the field
According to Jackie Robinson, “Life is not a spectator sport. If watchin’ is all you’re going to do, you’re going to watch your life go by without ya”. Life is meant for living, but for many church goers, sitting in a pew and people watching is mistakenly called engagement. When the church was described in the New Testament, I don’t remember much about sitting in the back row being fed.
Go, give, share, love, tell, serve, and sacrifice all sound much more like the biblical church than sit and listen. Of course, there is great value in learning to be still, contemplation and studying the Bible, but the goal is that those things might transform us. As we are continually transformed, we are a force for transformation in the lives of others and in our world. So even the sitting and listening is tied to action. If this is the kind of church that we are wanting to develop, then how do we move people from the pew and onto the field?
Share the Vision
What makes the church unique is that its mission is tied back to an ancient narrative. We are invited to play a part in the story of God’s pursuit of humankind. Communicating the vision for your church and how it connects to that narrative gives people a reason to want to be involved.
Have a Plan
Wanting people to engage is great, but if you don’t have clearly defined ways for them to do it, then they won’t know how to get engaged. Identify a variety of ways that people can get involved.
Often, people don’t engage because they are not asked. Having a clear plan of how people can engage is a great start, but you need to follow that up with asking them. Whenever possible, make invitations personal (ask them one-on-one) and personalized (invite them to engage in alignment with their gifts and interests).
Make it Easy
Getting engaged can be scary. When you develop the possible engagement opportunities, make sure that you have some low risk and low commitment options. This includes things like helping set up for an event, or come as a guest to a small group.
Help them be successful
When people engage, you want the experience to be a positive one. Depending on how someone is going to engage, that might mean providing some training. It can be easy to see engagement from your perspective, but new people won’t have the same insider information that you have. Simple steps like not using acronyms and providing a map of where things are go a long way.
There is a reason that Jesus told so many stories. Stories engage our hearts, show impact and make complex concepts easier to process. Share not only the impact that your church is having, but also how becoming involved has impacted the volunteer. A simple formula is “Before I got involved in Alpha my life was like ___ and now that I am an group leader, my life has changed in ____ ways”.
Put People First
The real reason we want people to be involved is so that they can grow in Christ, not just because we have lots of things that need to get done. One way for people to know that you are putting them first is to allow them to say no. Make space for people to take a break.
Church should be something we do, not just something we observe. You can increase involvement by creating the right environment, and making engagement easy.
How are you developing engagement in your church?