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How To Create Effective On-Ramps for Church Engagement

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Every pastor recognizes the necessity of local church participation and engagement.

Practicality speaking, churches cannot function without adequate funding or volunteers.

More importantly, participating in the life and mission of a local church is an integral part of discipleship. I’ve suggested before that church engagement alone doesn’t equate to discipleship, and while I stand by that, I also believe discipleship should involve church engagement.

Getting people to engage is critical to Christianity, the church, and their life.

Vision and ‘Need’ Isn’t Enough

While everything above is true, this vision has proven insufficient to involve most disengaged people.

People have always been somewhat afraid of commitment, but that fear is on steroids today.

Go back 20 years; some vision from the pulpit and a clear ask was all you needed. Today, vision and an ask net basically nothing. It feels like we were once shooting fish in a barrel, and now we’re staring at an empty pond.

Yet, there are loads of people in every church choosing to remain disengaged. Or so it seems.

What if all of these non-participants are willing to engage, but we’ve not offered them the right step?

Lowering the Engagement Bar

Over the last three years of coaching churches, I’ve found that people are still willing to engage at the same rate as before, but not at the same level.

Let me explain through an example.

Go back 20 or so years. It was pretty standard for pastors to ask people in the audience to consider joining a serving team. This request netted a large number of potential participants. Some of these people selected not to move forward into service, but many did. And these roles were significant. People were willing and able to go from sitting in a row to serving every week.

I cannot imagine this scenario playing out today.

Why? Going from sitting in a row once or twice a month for an hour to serving every week for multiple hours is too great a leap. That “step” isn’t a step for most people today. To them, it looks like the Grand Canyon.

The solution isn’t to blame people or force old methods down their throats. The solution is to lower the bar by creating a more incremental and achievable step.

Incremental Steps of Faith

The key word for today’s engagement model is “incremental.” People today need an increasing number of smaller steps to engage in their local church.