We often make follow-up and serving God harder than it needs to be. There are times when the problem is not the task, but our approach to the task. We can make things feel like burdens when they are really blessings.
After the initial excitement of joining Follow-up Ministry I soon began to feel the “burden” of follow-up. It soon began to feel like a millstone around my neck. I had not lost my love or enthusiasm for people, but the way I went about follow-up made it burdensome to me.
You soon lose your enthusiasm for something that you find a burden and an inconvenience.
The problem is that I had made follow-up an unsustainable extra, instead of a lifestyle. Anything that you do in an unsustainable way will not last, no matter how enthusiastic you are in the beginning.
Let me give you an illustration of this. I recently completed an excellent course on sports nutrition. The last module of the course looked at master strategies for weight loss or muscle gain. The primary thing that it emphasised was that your weight loss programme must be sustainable. Most people go on some radical weight loss programme that they cannot sustain. They manage it for a while, see some results, but ultimately quit because it was not sustainable. Instead of going on some radical diet people need to make healthy eating and nutrition they’re lifestyle, so they can sustain it over the long term and see lifetime results.
Back to follow-up. Many find follow-up a burden after a while because it has been approached in the wrong way. It is viewed as something additional to their Christianity. They try to do radical things that are unsustainable;
Taking convert out for coffee every week
Taking convert out for lunch or dinner every week
Buying gifts for the convert every week
Hosting a fellowship in their home every week
Calling the convert every day
Picking up the convert for every church service or event
Many approach follow-up in a way that their budget, schedule and other commitments cannot sustain over the long term. Eventually it becomes too much and they quit.
Have you approached follow-up in a way that makes it a burden instead of a blessing?
Follow-up changed for me when I made it my lifestyle. Instead of spending my time chasing after people, who were sometimes uninterested in coming back to church, I decided to invite people into my life. I would do things that I normally did, but invite the convert to be involved.
I would say something like “I’m doing .... today. Are you free? Why don’t you come along?”. Whether I was going into town, going to council offices, painting a spare room at home, going to the gym, picking up church flyers, picking up a rental car, buying equipment for church, driving to the airport to pick up a visiting Pastor ... Whenever possible and appropriate I would include the convert in what I was doing. I made follow-up part of my lifestyle.
This would start from my very first encounter with the convert, on exchanging numbers I would say; "A few of us are getting together. Are you free? Why don't you come along?"
You will soon be including them in the spiritual things that you do ...
It was not long before I was able to include them in the spiritual things that I was doing. “I’m going to bible study, are you free? Why don’t you come?”, or prayer meeting, men’s discipleship, gospel concert, outreach, fellowship, etc.
The convert ended up spending hours with me ...
This has worked in every church I have been in. When I was in Walvis Bay Namibia, my family and I were renting a flat in a complex in town. One day my car leaked oil on the interlock paving outside of the garage. I needed to spend some time cleaning it. I called a young man that had recently prayed to receive Jesus, told him what I was doing, and said if he’s free he could come with me as I went to buy the chemicals, brushes and buckets that I needed. He ended up spending hours with me, talking about life, church, cars and more. I made follow-up fit into what I was doing anyway. That young man is still in the church today, years after we left Namibia.
We need to make follow-up fit in with our lifestyles and invite the converts into our space ...
We do need to make extra efforts at times and when finances and circumstances allow. We do need to seek God for resources and opportunities to bless converts. I am not denying that. However, we need to make follow-up fit in with our lifestyles and invite the converts into our space. This must be done with wisdom and transparency with your Pastor and follow-up leader, and involvement with other established members.
When you approach working with people as a lifestyle it changes everything. When you allow people to be included in what you are doing it removes the burden and the relationship is far more natural and real. If you continue to approach it in an unsustainable way it will feel like a huge millstone that you will not be able to carry for very long.