How To Create An Effective Follow-up System In Your Church: A Person. Not A Project.
Not long after joining Follow-up Ministry Pastor Peter approached me and asked if I would consider leading the ministry. Bristol church was experiencing revival and many people were being saved and added to the church. I enthusiastically agreed to lead follow-up. Sometimes we agree to things without fully understanding what will be involved, but that's another story.
The dangerous shift ...
I was given a folder containing convert cards, salvation prayers and welcome letters. I was also given details of the converts that the church was working with at that time. A subtle, yet dangerous shift happened in my mind. I began to see converts just as people that needed to be in church, rather than people that needed to be ministered to, taught, nurtured, befriended, included, helped and established.
Have you reduced follow-up to simply getting people to church services? ...
If we are not careful we begin to see converts as projects, instead of people with struggles, hopes, fears, needs, strengths, weaknesses, frailties and insecurities. People who have been touched by God and need help and guidance in their transition from a secular and sinful life, to a sanctified life.
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We must strive to build meaningful relationship ...
Follow-up can easily be reduced to "Was the convert in church?", and whenever we can answer "Yes!" we assume that our follow-up is successful. That can be all we care about. There can be no attempt to build meaningful relationship with the converts. They are simply a project and our objective is to get them to attend church. I have met people who say their Pastor only ever calls them when they miss church, not interested in them, just in them attending the services.
I want to let you into a secret; converts know when they are your project. They know when you are not interested in them, but in them attending church. They know when you are just ticking boxes.
I remember one particular young man that got saved in the Bristol church and started attending. I started my usual follow-up routine with this young man; calling, text messages, sending scriptures, invitations to fellowship. There was very little response. This continued for a couple of months. One evening I was speaking to a friend that was going through some problems. As a friend i said, "Just call me anytime you need to talk about this". I thought about the young man that I was following-up, and realised that I had never made myself available to him in that way. It was about 11pm, but I sent him a text saying: "I'm here if you ever want to talk. My phone is always on, call me anytime". He replied with "Thanks". Our relationship changed from that point. We began to have relationship, became good friends, and he became very fruitful in the church. The turning point came when I stopped being a follow-up worker to him and started being a friend.
How to tell when they are your project ...
You can tell when someone is just your project when you are more interested in ticking boxes than supporting the person. When you are satisfied as long as you have done what the ministry leader requires of you, even if you have not provided what the convert needs from you. When you only call them to invite them to the next service or to find out why they missed the last one. When you stop calling them when they no longer require follow-up.
Find some common ground for friendship ...
The Apostle Paul gave us insight into why he was so successful with people. In 1 Corinthians 9:22 he wrote; "I have become all things to all men, that by all means I might save some". When you read the passage it becomes clear that Paul sacrificed himself, and found some common ground for genuine relationship with people, so that he could serve their need for Jesus.
Relationship is often the glue ...
I learnt a life lesson from the young man that I mentioned earlier. When we became friends he later told me the importance of me reaching out to him as a friend. He explained that he had been struggling with church at the time and was finding it very difficult. The reason was a lack of relationship. Before salvation he had lots of friends that would constantly visit, drink, smoke and party. He no longer wanted that lifestyle, but still needed genuine friends. He had distanced himself from friends in the world, but had not yet made friends in the church. He felt isolated. Having someone reach out to him as a friend and treating him as a person made all the difference.
The gospel is the message and the power that makes people come to church, but genuine relationship is often the glue that makes them stick.
Check out this post in Christianity Today on the importance of altar call follow-up and tips on making it successful.
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