Ever wish you could suddenly unravel the mystery of how to connect the unconnected people in your church? You know—the ones that no matter what you try, no matter how hard you try—they really don’t seem to want to do anything more than sit in a row. Maybe you wish you’d just sit bolt upright in the middle of the night and yell out, “Eureka! I know how to connect these people!”
Or maybe you’ve just given up and assumed if God really wanted everyone connected in a group He would have given everyone the same level of desire to be part of a group!
Although I’ve frequently written about unconnected people, I’m not sure I’ve framed their situation quite this way.
Seven things you might be missing about unconnected people:
- Unconnected people are almost never loners. They are connected already, just not to other people at your church. In fact, I’ve said for many years that the least connected people in your church are the most connected people outside of your church (and conversely, the most connected people inside your church are the least connected outside).
- With very few exceptions, all of us are pre-wired for community. While these people seem to be wired differently, they often are already experiencing a version of community somewhere else.
- Their taste buds don’t find the same topics appealing. Topics that long-time participants find fascinating rarely do it for these people. Just like the taste for coffee, beer or wine, and brussel sprouts is an acquired taste, the key is to find topics in which unconnected people are already interested.
- Since almost nothing new is ever purchased without first sampling, trying on for size or test-driving for feel, why would connecting to a small group be any different? The longer the initial commitment sounds (“sign up for the fall semester” or “sign a 12- to 18-month covenant”), the more cautiously an unconnected person will approach connecting. Conversely, the more the invitation sounds like a test-drive or a taste-test, the less concerned an unconnected person will be.
- Unconnected people are not all the same. Within the broad category of these people there are extroverts and introverts. There are socially adept people and there are socially awkward people. There are unconnected people who make great first impressions and those who don’t. While one strategy may work for extroverted, socially adept unconnected people who make great first impressions, the same strategy may feel like a death sentence (or at least life in prison) to the introverted, socially awkward spouse who makes a terrible first impression.
- Unconnected people are rarely regular attenders. They may only attend your weekend service on the weekends they have their children, or have Sunday off, or their team plays on Monday night. There are many reasons they only infrequently attend your weekend service.
- Unconnected people are often most comfortable with the familiar. While there are unconnected people who seek out new experiences and are the first in line for the new ride at Disneyland or the new latte at Starbucks, there are also many who are drawn to the familiar. At the same time, there are some who will only try the new restaurant if it’s in a familiar part of town or if it serves a familiar dish.
The Key Takeaway: Like all good designers, if you want your product to be purchased and used, you must know your customer. Becoming a student of these people will help you understand them and create better next steps for them (and even first steps for their friends).