If you believe that unconnected people are always one tough thing away from never being at your church again, then you have all the motivation you need to invest in building a pervasive sense of community in your church. See also, What's Your Urgency Level for Connecting Unconnected People? and This Is Why We Need Community.
There are five essential ingredients that will build a pervasive sense of community in your church:
1. A thriving small-group ministry. If you want to build community in your church, you must understand that not only does life change happen best in circles (not rows), so does community. A thriving small-group ministry is an essential ingredient that builds community in your church because unless your church is flat-lined, you will always need a growing number of new groups to connect a growing number of unconnected people. See also, 10 Powerful Benefits of a Thriving Small Group Ministry.
2. Build steps into community that are easy, obvious and strategic. Building a thriving small-group ministry is an essential ingredient. Still, putting energy and resources into small-group infrastructure without making the hard choices that create first steps and next steps won't build community. To build pervasive community it is essential to design steps that are easy for unconnected people to take. In addition, the steps you design will need to be obvious—not hidden in a buffet of options. Finally, the steps you build will need to be strategic, eliminate sideways energy, and lead only in direction of the preferred future.
3. Build glimpses of community and connecting opportunities into your weekend service. Although the desire to belong is innate in the human heart, the longing for community is not always obvious to unconnected people. In order to whet appetites and persuade tentative first steps, a steady diet of satisfied customer stories coupled with low-risk connecting opportunities is essential (think auditorium section hosts and friendly ushers on a mission). See also, How to Develop Video or Live Testimony that Recruits Members or HOSTs.
4. Introduce friendlier and stickier points of connection from street to seat. Community building begins on the website and in the parking lot. Introducing an all-out effort to humanize every point of contact is an essential ingredient. Until you can truly empathize with the unconnected people in your crowd and community, you can't expect to build a pervasive sense of community. It will always be insider vs. outsider. See also, Learn to Empathize with Your End User.
5. Cast vision for community with every opportunity. Website, newsletter, video, bulletin, welcome, announcements, sermons, greeters, parking team, ushers, worship team, children's ministry, student ministry, counseling, recovery and care, outreach, etc. Everything must cast vision for community.
How would you diagnose your church's capabilities when it comes to building pervasive community? Is it happening? Is it only a fantasy? Is it just a couple ingredients away? Is it even on your agenda or in the conversation?
It is true, you know: Unconnected people are always one tough thing away from never being at your church again. In my mind, that ought to make building a pervasive sense of community a number-one priority for all of us.
Mark Howell is the founder of SmallGroupResources.net, committed to helping churches launch, build, and sustain healthy small group ministries. He's also the Pastor of Discipleship Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church.
For the original article, visit pastors.com.
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