I received this message from Reid Shuping, Stewardship Pastor at Hope Church located just outside Memphis, Tennessee about my latest e-book, Getting Disciple Making Right. I appreciated his comments and thought you might be interested in reading them, too.
I read the e-book on discipleship when you first posted it. I thought it was spot-on. I don’t know if the book resonated with me because it was published in a modern/easily accessed format, or if it’s just plain close to the things I discover in meeting with new members. Regardless, the e-book hits directly on what I am learning through the meetings I have with new members. The one line I remember (and quote) the most is: “If 80% of people who are becoming members of your church are not giving, serving and/or connecting to a small group, there should be concern” (my paraphrase).
As I meet with new members and experience their stories up close (i.e. giving/service/connection), I couldn’t be more convinced that we have such a great opportunity and pure need as church leaders to demonstrate ownership of people’s involvement in our ministries. My meetings with new members lead to everything from showing up for first time volunteer experiences to helping people get involved in a small group by personally introducing them to a small group leader. What I have also seen, when it comes to the spider web of reasons behind why people give, is that an individual’s experience at church is not even a stone’s throw from a major part of why people give. How they are received, how easy they found it was to get connected, how they felt their giving could personally make a difference, etc. If I am going to have any hope of seeing people become passionate about their giving, it requires me to take a holistic observation and involvement in their story. No hesitations, no disclaimers, no worries. I’m friends with them on Facebook and they have my cell phone number. And, yes, I even occasionally forget a name or two!
Our challenge as church workers is learning how to get the system run for, and not against, our people. We have the temptation to prescribe events for our people’s desire to connect. We want to give them a time and date and not a name and phone number. We find ourselves speaking in terms of event names and not the names of our friends. I always share that being available to others doesn’t mean you are signing up to be their best friend, it’s simply a piece of what we can do to reduce the barriers that keep people from giving, serving and connecting – and living fully.
Thanks Reid for your commitment to rethinking how leaders approach ministry and cultivating the resources God has provided through the people in the pew.