There are a few things I know about connecting unconnected people. And let me tell you something: while there are definitely exceptions to just about every rule; if you can think of examples counter to these five, you are thinking of exceptions. Build your ministry off the rule and not the exception.
I’ve said many times that unconnected people are one tough thing away from not being at your church. Loss of a job. Divorce or separation. A devastating diagnosis. A child in trouble. Consider these five insights about how to help reach new families.
5 Things You Need to Know About Connecting Unconnected People
1. Different Appetites
Unconnected people have different appetites and rarely respond to menu items that appeal to the core and committed. If you’re finding it hard to connect beyond the usual suspects, you might need to take a careful look at the topics of studies you’re offering. See also, How to Choose Curriculum That Launches Groups and Does Your Topic Connect With Your True Customer.
Unconnected people are wary of long commitments. When you promote a short-term study that’s 13 weeks (Financial Peace, Experiencing God, or some Beth Moore studies), you need to know that unconnected people hear “lifetime commitment.” What’s the right length? I’ve found that six weeks is just about ideal. Lyman Coleman has said many times that six weeks is short enough to commit to and long enough to help people begin to feel connected. Lyman’s right.
3. Test Drives
Unconnected people respond to test-drives and putting toes-in-the-water. In addition to offering shorter short-term opportunities, making it clear that it’s “just a test-drive” helps unconnected people feel more comfortable putting their toe in the water. If they know they can have a taste and opt out if it’s not for them, they’ll be much more likely to give it a try. Language is so important. The power of the right words cannot be overstated.
4. Familiar Territory
Unconnected people connect easiest when the first step out of the auditorium is familiar. Listen to very many new attendees at your church and you’ll often learn that just getting up the nerve to come to a weekend service was a real challenge. I’ve talked with many who’ve told me they drove by many times before they ever pulled into the parking lot. I’ve had a number tell me they made it to the parking lot more than once and couldn’t get out of their cars. Want these same people to join a small group? Better give them a way to attend an on-campus study or small group connection as their first step. See also, How to Calm an Unconnected Person’s Second Greatest Fear.
Unconnected people attend less frequently than connected people. Have a connecting opportunity coming up? If you want unconnected people to hear about it, you better keep in mind that promoting the event several weeks in a row is essential. See also, Why You Must Make the HOST Ask Several Weeks in a Row.