Getting the Word out

Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis “Mark 7:31”

We have a wonderful congregation, a beautiful church, good sermons and many activities. Why aren’t we receiving more visitors interested in joining?

Have we heard this question before? “Everything here is so nice people should want to join us.”

Perhaps everything a pastor, staff and members should do has been done except one:

Mark 7:31 tells us what that is. We are commanded to go out where people are, even places where we may be uncomfortable. Jesus was never constrained by geography or by people of different faith or no faith.

Matthew 28:19-20 tells us to go make disciples of all.

Luke 14:17 tells about the man who prepared a banquet: When it was time for the banquet, he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

The Problem:

  • It isn’t that we don’t know what to do. Perhaps we haven’t given it a priority.
  • “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” may be an issue.
  • We aren’t sure how to go about an effective outreach effort.
  • Do we have the data processing tools to help establish and track an outreach effort?
  • The problem may not be as much of attracting visitors but in integrating them into the ministry of the church.
  • There may be a need to provide activities in which visitors and members can participate.
  • Changing neighborhood demographics can present a different set of challenges.

The good news is that many churches are growing. The sad news is that nationwide church membership and attendance are declining across almost all denominations. A cultural change seems to be taking place in which active church participation is in competition with people’s involvement with secular interests. A spiritual revival is needed, and that is a responsibility of the church

What can we do?:

RDS Advantage was founded upon a commitment to The Great Commandment of Matthew 28:19-20. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Because of this commitment many applications have been built into the RDS system to support outreach.

Data Processing Tools:

Both internal ministry and outreach are important. One of the important functions of RDS is the ability to easily track the attendance of each individual at worship, Sunday school and/or other activities. It is not the attendance that is so important, but the ability to respond to those who are absent.

A Contact Management system tracks visitation, phone and e-mail and other contacts. Future contacts can be scheduled, and visitation reports printed.
There are reports in RDS that can print lists of names, phone numbers, etc., of those who have missed a certain number of services based on dates. It’s easy and doesn’t take much time. A visitation card is available used to record the details about each visit or contact. Different types of communication are available.

Some Examples:

  • An effective approach for congregational ministry is to recruit one or more volunteers who each week are given a list of those who have missed the last three or more services. They should be trained for the right type of call to make, such as, “Joe, we have been missing you. Is everything all right? How are the kids? How is Sarah? How are things at work?”
  • The call must be a ministry call and not seen to be just to urge them back to church. It is a call to find out if there is anything going on with the family or work the church should be aware of in order to minister to that family’s needs.
  • A record is made of the call and the response, and these records should go to the pastor for his/her knowledge and to follow-up if appropriate. The RDS Contact Management program is made just for this purpose.
  • One church collects attendance sheets during the worship service. These go to a data entry person who enters the names and addresses of visitors and prints visitation cards. Volunteers pick up the visitors cards, printed in geographic order, and call on the visitors later the same day. Literature and home-baked muffins are given to the visitors. Information about the visit is written on the visitation cards and returned to the church for entry in the Contact Management system. Follow up calls are made based upon the notes from the last visit. The program produced the largest number of net new members for the year the church had experienced.
  • Once a month a Dallas church invites people driving by to a free meal. The church is located on a busy arterial street. No strings are attached to the meal, and members use the opportunity to visit with the visitors.
  • A church invited the employees of the city to a barbeque that included members of the church. The purpose was to express appreciation to city employees for their services, and acquaint them with church members.
  • Sports programs for area youth are a great way to involve youth (and their parents) with the church.
  • A church hosts a dinner to establish a relationship with a close-by school to support the teachers and the students. Members mentor students during the school year, and supplies are purchased for teachers.

The ways to reach out to people are endless, limited only by our imagination. The goal is always to touch the hearts and souls of individuals with the Good News.

-Dick Webber