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Five Ways to Connect With Disconnected People

One of the higher priorities for the church in recent years has become assimilation, and rightfully so. The days are gone when people would find the nearest church and commit immediately—more people are secular and are not looking to jump into a church, and more Christians are cautious in their involvement. If people visit your church, however, they are probably looking to connect in some way, regardless of their spiritual condition. If they don’t, they won’t be around long.

So this article is intended to help you find ways to connect with people who visit your church, but are not connected in community. 

Simply put, you need to find opportunities to connect with disconnected people that attend the church gathering. People need to be assimilated into the church fairly quickly. It has been said that if people do not get plugged into some meaningful community within six months of their attending a church, they almost always drop out. In some cases, that may look more like six weeks.

On the other hand, if they are successfully connected (or “assimilated”), they are probably going to stick. This opens up doors for evangelism, discipleship and spiritual growth not only with those people and their family, but also their extended family and friends.

Connect With the Disconnected People

People come to a church gathering and they will typically visit anonymously to check things out. They are often looking for a connection to God that comes through worship, prayer, the sermon and communion. They are also looking for a connection to people; otherwise, they would stay at home and watch an Internet church. If they connect with God at the gathering but don’t connect with people, they may miss an opportunity for their spiritual growth or health (or in some cases, spiritual birth).

Let’s look at five ways a church body can connect with the disconnected.

1. Take advantage of the three-minute rule.

The three-minute rule begins when the final prayer is said or song is sung. This is not the time to talk to your best friends. During those first three minutes, two things are going to happen: People who are familiar are going to talk to each other and people who don’t know anyone are going to leave quickly. This is where it’s crucial. If you take the time in those first three minutes to talk to the people who aren’t connected, you will have time afterward to talk to your friends who are more likely to stick around. You need to see those first three minutes after a church gathering as a time-sensitive corporate fishing pool for Group prospects. You have three critical minutes to look immediately around for people who are not connected in the body. Be friendly to them, ask them if they are in a group and invite them if they are not connected to one.

2. Make sure group leaders are visible and available.

People who are not connected will often slip out as quickly as possible—sometimes even before the service is over. (It is not surprising that they don’t excitedly anticipate the offering and closing benediction.)

Key group leaders should move to the exit areas to connect with the disconnected right after the sermon or the end of the message. The people who are the most disconnected will exit before they have to speak to anyone. They may not be ready to connect, but you can, at the least, be a friendly face on their way out. If they return, you will have a greater opportunity to connect them to a group when they are ready.

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., is a professor and dean at Wheaton College where he also serves as Executive Director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, has earned two master’s degrees and two doctorates, and has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books. He is Regional Director for Lausanne North America, is the editor-in-chief of Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited in, interviewed by, and writes for news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He is the Founding Editor of The Gospel Project, a curriculum used by more than 1.7 million individuals each week for bible story. His national radio show, Ed Stetzer Live, airs Saturdays on Moody Radio and affiliates. He serves as interim teaching pastor of Calvary Church in New York City and serves as teaching pastor at Highpoint Church.