References from recent conferences:
"This may have been the best seminar I have attended. I really have been motivated to give this a very close look and then do this."
"I had been thinking this was something our class needed to do. I appreciate the affirmation. You're right. We need to act in love, not just teach."
"Josh is very real to life and practical."
"Thank you for a great session. You have been thought provoking and scriptures you shared are very convicting. I know I need to look inside me and be confident in God's use of me. You were fun and made learning fun."
"Thank you for time well spent. Your ability to make truth clear and drive to the heart the responsibility of showing nothing but truth is most valuable. It's helpful to understand what is behind the 2020 program. It's exciting and your effort is appreciated. And I will add you to my prayer list."
"The timing and the material was perfect as we prepare to reach out to our community and at the same time grow our church. Thanks Josh."
September of last year, they called me as their interim pastor "because
To hear some believers talk, Easter guests are the enemy. They are sort of a nuisance. They are consumers who want to perform their religious duty with no intent on follow through. People who want to pacify their conscience by attending church once a year. They are lukewarm. Didn't the Bible say some bad things about the lukewarm? We have enough trouble with one day a week Christians. These one day a year Christians -- this is too much!
Doubling churches look at Easter guests in a totally different way.
Doubling churches look at Easter as one of the great opportunities of the year. The one time a year when people who are far from God will come to us. We get an opportunity to touch them, talk to them, teach them and love them. Doubling churches prize this opportunity, look forward to it, pray about it, and plan for it.
And, they have a well-thought through strategy for following up with Easter guests. What is your strategy? Consider these three words in guiding your strategy for treating guests, not only at Easter, but all year long.
All things being equal, the quicker you get to guests the better. If you do visitation, you will do better on Monday night than Tuesday. Quicker the better.
I knew one church that had it worked out where they had people who attended the early service and middle Sunday School hour. The church took the names of guests in the early part of the 11:00 service. This team who had gone to the early service took one or two cards each and stopped by on the way home, delivering a plate of cookies and a note that read, "Thank you for visiting in our church today."
The amazing thing to me about this story is that you tend to think that if it is more effective it has to be more work or more money. This approach is likely less work than coming out on a Tuesday night to do visitation. And far more impressive.
On the other hand, if you wait three weeks to contact guests, there is not too much you can say at that point to persuade them that you are really, really glad they came.
Treatment of guests starts when the guests arrive. I was in a church once that took friendliness and turned it into an art form. They had multiple tiers of greeters—in the parking lot and at the curb and outside the outside doors and inside the outside doors and outside the inside doors and so forth. It made quite an impression.
On the other end of the spectrum are churches that don't even do the courtesy of Wal-Mart: to have one smiling greeter at the door. The Bible tells us, in the form of a command to, "Greet one another." It may seem like a small thing, but I have known people to get very mad when they are not greeted properly.
Some churches have what I call a "pounce" strategy. "Seven contacts in seven days," is their motto. A call today, a card tomorrow, a visit the next day, an email the next, a letter the next and so on. From the pastor, from the Minister of Education, from the Sunday School teacher etc. This can be a good thing. It can also be overdone. There is such a thing as coming on too strong, although, to be honest, that is not a problem for most churches.
Still, my question is, what do you do the second week, and the second month?
More important than having seven contacts instead of two the first week is continuing to contact them seven weeks and seven months later. Many people take a long time to come around. No matter how many contacts you do that first week, they are not going to come around. The more important question is how many contacts will they get in the next six months.
I have seen it happen many times where people did not respond for six months or more to an invitation. This is one of the strengths of the Double Your Class system is that you can invite someone to a party once a month from now till Jesus comes and it doesn't get awkward. If you invite them to class and invite them to class and invite them to class, before long it gets awkward.
I talked to someone after he got active in church. I remembered that I had called him half a dozen times or more to come to various events and he always turned me down. After I got to know him pretty well, I said to him, "What took you so long!"
"You know, every time you called," he explained, "I would set down the phone and say to my wife, 'That was Josh (again). He invited us to this Halloween thing. We really need to take him up on these offers one of these days.'" And, one of these days they did. But one of these days was quite a while since the first visit and first invitation.
He understood that I was not inviting him to a Halloween thing. I was inviting him to group life, to church life, to be my friend. It took him a while to get ready for that.
I remember calling someone one time that I had called a dozen times. It was starting to get awkward. "Do you want me to take you off this list?" "Oh no, we love turning you down." Many people got involved that did not get involved until I called them six times or more.
The more prompt the contact the better.
The more persistent the contact the better.
The more personal the contact the better.
People are looking for a friendly church, they are looking for friends, as Rick Warren says it. People are looking for someone who will scribble their name on the outside of their phone book. They don't care so much about being in the church's database of contacts. They want to be in your heart.
The heart of the Double Your Class system is about getting personal with people.
Will you love them? Will you find of place in your heart for one who will visit this Sunday. Will you love them in common, ordinary, pedestrian ways like having them in your home and sharing your coffee cake with them?
People who are opposed to the gosple are not opposed to ice cream.
If we love them they will come and they will come to love our Lord.