Taking the Next Step at Church – your feedback

This morning, I sat with some key leaders at Eastbrook Church to talk about what it means for people to take the next step of involvement at our church. There are so many good things happening in this whole arena at Eastbrook, but we always want to consider ways we could help people more easily take those next steps. We talked about communication, clear pathways, welcome brochures and gifts, meaningful people connections, and more.

After discussing this, I was interested in hearing from others both within our church and elsewhere about your experiences of taking the next step at a church. Here’s the question:

What is the single-most important thing that helped you take the next step toward belonging at a church?

You could also read a related post that I wrote awhile back entitled “Are We Radically Welcoming?

18 thoughts on “Taking the Next Step at Church – your feedback

  1. Hi Matt. In most of the times I “took the next step” of involvement at a church it was because I was invited by someone I knew at the church. Pretty radical, right? I’ve enjoyed your facebook postings!

    Paul

  2. This is close to my heart, and I want EBC to be as open, clear and welcoming as possible. But, the single most important thing that got us involved was “Taking the next step”. Literally. EBC can’t pick up my feet and move them for me; but it can give them a place to land (and instructions on how to get there). However, all the wonderful ministries in the world aren’t effective if those who need them don’t take the step of showing up.

    We attended EBC for 6 years without making a friend. Once we determined to take a step into the flow, innumerable blessings followed.
    Sitting and waiting for someone to find us, did not produce the same result.

    So, I guess the action would be to encourage the congregation to seek what they need. Most likely they will find it amongst the ministries of EBC.

  3. I want to echo Brian’s comments. Having come to Eastbrook after being in a fellowship of 200, the culture shock was initially difficult. I kept waiting for someone to recognize me as a newcomer and invite me to get involved (I was shy). I was invited to the Friday morning women’s study, but I worked and could not attend. After about 4 months, I took the membership class, learned about and became involved in a ministry, and then started to meet people. It still took a while, and it wasn’t until I had been coming to Eastbrook for a 2 or 3 years that I felt like I wasn’t an outsider. However, had I gotten involved in a life group sooner, I think I would have felt more connected and assimilated a lot faster.

  4. Thanks, all, for the comments so far. I do think there is a tension between what the church does to make the way easier for people to connect and what people do to take initiative to connect themselves. On both sides, there is a need for hard work and initiative.

    One comment this morning related to the way different personalities take this on:
    – some research on their own
    – some want personal contact
    – some want to be pointed out
    – some want to lurk

    What do you think about that?

  5. After joining EBC, I was surprised to learn how many people told me how long they had been attending the church before actually making any friends. I’m usually not an outgoing person, so I consider my story to be quite unusual, but a true blessing:
    About 7-1/2 years ago, I was visiting my cousin, Roland Heuser. I had come to photograph his horses that winter. While standing around in the field afterwards, we started talking about God and churches. I told him I was looking for a church. Roly invited me to check out EBC. From the very start, he introduced me to a few people every week. I think it was Roly’s efforts that never made me feel like EBC was a big church. I was able to focus on a few more friends each week, and never once felt overwhelmed. And I had always been part of small churches my entire life. When I look around during a service today, I can easily say that I never could have seen myself as part of a “big” church in the past. It’s amazing how the Holy Spirit works differently in each of us and for each of us.

    After a couple months of attending EBC, I realized that I needed to make more efforts of my own to make friends and be discipled. I began attending Spiritual Formation classes. Then I took the membership classes. A little while later, I joined the worship choir.

    My heart feels for those people who haven’t had the experience that I’ve had, and I hope whenever the opportunity presents itself to me, that I am keen enough and open to doing the same for others as Roly did for me.

    Matt, I liked the different examples of personalities that you presented. I think it’s important for me/us to remember that not everyone hears and responds to the Holy Spirit the same way.

    • Thanks for the feedback on your own story, Mark. I really appreciate it. I do agree with your final comments about the way the Holy Spirit speaks and works with different people in different ways. That’s a great reminder, Mark!

  6. At Elmbrook-decades ago-joining a small group.

    Small steps-sharing a meal with someone.

    Sometimes it is actually harder to connect in a small church than a large church because of established relationships that don’t open up to let new people in, as in cliques and status quo.

  7. I think it was seeing Gods people come together, and the wonderful/powerful things the body of Christ can do as a unit. Individual faith is great but seeing the body at work was better.

  8. A community. Developing deep meaningful relationships with people both my own age and older. Feeling like I have a place that I belong to, that I can contribute to, that encourages and edifies me.

  9. Being made to feel welcome. People reaching out to greet me. Seeing the body of Christ in action.

  10. Just being in the presence of people who weren’t fake or thought that church was just someplace to go every week and then forget about it for the rest of the week.

  11. As soon as we decided that EB would be our church home, we immediately joined the choir and the next Dinners for 8 that was organized, but we were used to moving around the country a lot and getting involved in churches quickly.

    If you are looking for a brainstormy type new idea for visitors who are looking for a church home, maybe we could have something where newcomers could sign up to have dinner at a member’s home who lives in their area. I’d be happy to have newcomers over to our place! 😀

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