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Will You Reach Far Enough in 2011?

Who will you connect in 2011?  Will you focus your efforts on the usual suspects?  Those still unconnected folks that already attend your weekend services a couple times a month but have been resisting commitment since before there was Sunday School?

Who will you connect in 2011?  Will you take a shot at connecting the folks that only come a few times a year…but might come to a small group connection if the topic was right?

Who will you connect in 2011?  Will this be the year that you choose a church-wide campaign that is actually designed to reach the neighbors and friends of the folks in your congregation?

Can I tell you something?  I already know who you’ll connect this year.  It’s not a magic trick either.  Want to know what I know?

You’ll connect the people that you are intentional and imaginative enough to reach.  No more.  And no less.

It’s All About Intentionality

First of all, you’ll connect the people you are intentional enough to reach.  That is, if you design your efforts to reach a certain kind of person (all the way from choosing the right curriculum and prioritizing the promotion of that event in the right ways and planning it at the optimum time), that’s who you’ll reach.

Here’s an example:

  • If you really want to connect the folks in your crowd (see Concentric Circles, my explanation of the diagram) you’ll need to keep in mind that they’re not there every week.  That means that you’ll need to promote it several weekends in a row.
  • Keep in mind that they’ll probably be more interested in a “show up” felt need study than in a “homework driven” Bible study.
  • Next, don’t forget that a 6 week study is short enough to imagine committing and long enough to begin establishing connection and the continuity of new habits.
  • Finally, you might keep in mind that it’s almost always easier for someone in the crowd to imagine taking a baby step by attending an on-campus event (like a small group connection) than it is to join a group meeting in a home.

It’s All About Imagination

You know your congregation.  You know your community.  That’s an advantage and a disadvantage.  Daniel J. Boorstin, former Librarian of the US Congress, said that, “The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge.”  On the same subject, Cynthia Barton Rabe, author of The Innovation Killer, warns that “what we know limits what we can imagine.”

Can I encourage you to open your eyes to possibilities that you’ve never seen before.  Talk to the folks in your crowd, in your community.  Ask them what would appeal to them.  Ask them how they came to your church the very first time and what made them come back.  Ask them what keeps them coming.

Keep this main thing in mind: if you ask your most connected members who their 10 best friends are (in your area), they’ll almost always tell you that 8, 9, or even all 10 of them are also already really connected at your church.  But if you ask the folks in your crowd who their 10 best friends are…they’ll be quick to tell you that their best friends have never been to your church.  They live across the cul de sac.  They were parents on the tee ball team 3 years ago.  They’re in a bunko group together.

To reach the friends of the folks in your crowd…you’ll have to connect the folks in the crowd first.  Remember, the x factor is near the edge.

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Mark Howell serves as Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV. He founded SmallGroupResources.net, offering consulting and coaching services to help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. He spent four years on the consulting staff at Lifetogether and often contributes to ministry periodicals such as the Pastor's Ministry Toolbox and ChurchCentral.com.