Categories for thinking about your church flock… (a.k.a. boxes to put people in)

Ok, I know that no-one – including myself – likes to be put in a box. When I take personality tests, I’m constantly trying to second guess what box they’re going to put me in and trying to offset that so I end up “un-boxable”. But, even with that in mind, it does help to have certain “non-ultimate” ways of knowing who’s around in your ministry. Here’s a few ideas:

“Crowd” – People who come irregularly, and for a variety of reasons (some good others not so good in your view) haven’t committed. They’re not really involved, they’re not in a group, they’re not keen to invite others along. They would probably call your church their church, but if everyone treated their church like that, you probably wouldn’t have a church.

“Community” – People who have committed to your church. They’ve made some type of intentioned decision to make the community of believers important and express that. They’d be giving financially, and they’d like to see their non-Christian friends come with them to meet Jesus at your church.

“Newish” – These are Christians (at least they’ve told you they’re Christians) who are new and so they’re not “Crowd” because they haven’t really had the chance to be lukewarm yet… and they’re not “Community” because they also haven’t really had the chance to faithfully express their intention to be part of the community. They could end up as one or the other… or neither and just leave.

“Non-Christian attenders” – Non-Christians who come along to church or other events your church puts on. They know that you know they’re a non-Christian, and they’re reasonably happy that you know that, and they don’t oppose the idea of you telling them they should stop being non-Christians.

“Non-Christian non-attenders” – this is everyone else in your parish/area/postcode/city. It’s the phonebook. They’re all part of your church too… just not in the way you’d like them to be… yet.

The Maturity Podcast

For a while now, Richard Sweatman and I have been recording a podcast quite like this blog. It’s brief, practical, and keeps thinking from the big principles. It’s called “The Maturity Podcast” and it’s aimed at helping Growth Group leaders (Small group/bible study/community/connect/[insert hipster name here] group leaders).
If you lead people who lead groups, it might be worth suggesting they have a listen on the way to work. Each episode is about 10mins (or 6mins on 1.5x speed). Check it out here.

What happens when you don’t turn up

Have you ever wondered what happens when you don’t turn up? Whether it’s to church or a growth group or something else, do you know what happens when you’re not there?
People notice, and generally they try and assume you had a good reason.
People don’t give it a second thought.
Other people will have put chairs out for you, prepared food for you, and prayed for you, and they’ll be disappointed (in a good way).
Other people will take care of things that you could have helped with.
Several fewer conversations will happen that day. Some if those conversations could have been really valuable and important to other people.
A chair will be left empty next to someone who would love it to be filled.
Other people will hear and engage in God’s word together. It will bind them that little bit more together as Jesus people who are committed to him and each other.
Yes, each one is just a little thing, but all together, and regularly? They make a huge difference!

Don’t dis the name tag

Name tags can be used really badly. Welcoming new people by making them put on a name tag is rarely a good idea. But why?

The value of name tags is to help create group identity.

Asking people who aren’t sure if they want to be in the group to wear a sign of being “in” just doesn’t work. They know they’re not “in” and wearing a name tag says they are “in”.

So why not using it when you gather together the people who are already “in”? Training events, Conferences, even getting a few Growth GRoups together for a social night. They are good opportunities to bring out the ol’ name tags and consolidate the group-ness.

Also, as group gets bigger, you can’t expect people to actually know the names of all the other people who are “in”. So make it easy on them and give them name tags.