Posts Tagged church member

Making Visitation Work

By Rev. Rick Robinson


Mark 16:15
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.

IS IT WORTH IT?

How effective is home visitation? Some say visitation is not effective in the modern church culture. Try explaining that to the cult members who are growing by proselytizing 70 to 80 percent of their membership out of our churches. Only 3 out of 10 Protestant churches have an organized visitation program and most of those have their sights on the church visitor. Churches with effective outreach should be touching the lives in five people groups. These include members, guest, the hospitalized, the homebound, and the unchurched. Each one of these people groups will require a different strategy, and you may have people with a passion for each one of those categories to help. If not, get organized, God will send them.

So how effective is home visitation? The most influential component of your church growth mix is the friendship factor. The effectiveness of visitation is cut in half when a paid staff member does it, because the perception is the staff is being paid to make visits. When ordinary members of the church make those visits, it is an act of wanting to be friends. When we look at the growth mix of your church, we use church growth ratios to determine the strengths and weaknesses you have. We can determine how your assimilation strategy is working by looking at the visitor retention ratios. Ratios from first time visitors are as follows:

  • Declining churches will see 12% or less of their first time guest join the church.
  • Slightly growing churches may see around 16% of first time guest join the church.
  • Growing, healthy churches will see 25% or more of their guest join the church.

If your strategy for growth includes only visitation, you have no strategy. Effective assimilation will require a detailed follow-up strategy, and until you are retaining at least one out of four first time visitors, it is not working. We can help you with assimilating your guest, but this lesson is going to help you get your visitation started, or organized first. You will see how it all comes together.

GETTING STARTED

Mark 7:6
Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two …

Let’s begin here with the visitation team itself. Some Christians prefer visiting alone. This can limit your opportunity for ministry and invite a potential uncomfortable situation under certain circumstances. Having a second person on the team has advantages. Each will have different gifts and perspectives that will make a successful team. This will also increase the safety of the visit. A husband and wife team would be ideal. I do not believe a man and woman should visit alone on the team when they are married, but not to each other. The next logical choice would be a third person team. As with the two-person ministry team, there will be more opportunity for witness and ministry with the variety of gifts, testimonies, and perspectives. There is not a right or wrong number of people to use on the team for basic visitation purposes. There is a common sense number, don’t storm the house with a bus load of people.

RECRUITING WOKERS

Luke 10:2
He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

When we do the Thoughts & Perceptions surveys in a church, it always reveals there are people who are willing to be trained in outreach. Most churches already have people that are ready and willing to work in outreach ministry. Pray for God to guide you as you begin this ministry in your church. I would encourage you to start by building a leadership base that you personally recruit, one on one. These are the people you can trust, that love the church, and love you. Make sure outreach is kept in the forefront of the church. Utilize the free help that is available to you in our library at MyChurchGrowth.com as a guideline. As your ministry grows, God will continue to supply the workers you need.

WE DON’T HAVE ANY PROSPECTS

John 4:35
Do you not say, „Four months more and then the harvest‟? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.

Unless you got this message out of a bottle that floated up on the deserted island you live on, you have plenty of prospects. Let’s take a look at where we can go visiting. Any evangelism or outreach ministry will be more effective with understanding the fields to be harvested. We must develop meaningful relationships through meeting needs both in the community and the church. So, what types of prospective new members are out there? The simple church growth principle of. No visitors, no growth, really comes into focus here. Our iCONSULTATION can help you with this part of your church growth mix, but here are some basic thoughts.

THE CHURCH GUEST

Matthew 22:9-10
Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.‟ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

The church guest is one of the best prospective members we have. Remember the contact should be made within 36 hours after their visit if possible. This is because 60% of first time visitors will return if the contact is made within 36 hours, while 15% will return if you wait until the end of the week.

INACTIVE MEMBERS

James 5:19-20
My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

Inactive Sunday School and church members are another resource for visitation. Don’t get discouraged when dealing with inactives. You should be aware that it is likely to require six to ten hours of visitation to move into ministry with the inactive. You can get detailed help with ministry to inactive church members in our library on our web site at MyChurchGrowth.com. Everything in the library is free.

FRAN’s

Mark 5:19-20
… “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

Friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors are rich mission fields for ministry. I have gone to many churches that thought they had no prospects, and asked them to make a list of people they can think of that do not attend church. A small church with a handful of people can easily come up with hundreds of prospects. Try it! Make your list, start praying for the people, and ask God to present opportunity. God does not procrastinate like we do. He is more than willing to set up divine appointments for us.

HOSPITALS AND NURSING HOMES

Luke 8:41-42
Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus‟ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.

Hospitals and nursing homes are full of people waiting for someone to come by and spend some time talking and praying with them. If you do not have members in the hospital or nursing home, try going from room to room, asking if anyone would like prayer. I have also asked nurses on duty if there is a certain patient that may enjoy a visit from someone. You run the risk of being asked to leave, but unless it is a small hospital, there’s more than one floor and more than one shift of nurses. You may be surprised with the results.

GOING DOOR TO DOOR

Acts 5:42
Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

Sound a little scary? Being a little frightened is only Satan trying to stop you. Before I was saved, I visited as a Mormon with no fear. Satan did not want to stop me. After I met Jesus Christ began visiting with the true gospel, I found that spirit of fear trying to stop me. Remember that we must only be willing to do it, and God will bless our efforts.

When you consider where you may want to go door to door, something else to consider is the natural traffic pattern. When the church is between the prospects home and a destination the prospect travels to on a regular basis, such as work, it is in the natural traffic pattern. These prospects will be easier to reach since they are accustomed to traveling from home in the direction of the church. It will require approximately 5 visits to get someone to attend worship when the church is in this traffic pattern. It will require about 9 visits for those who live outside that pattern. The most important question is, which field does God want you to work in, and what will the strategies be? These questions will be answered through prayer, the most important, effective part of outreach. Be sure to read the Caring & Sharing article in our library for more help on this subject.

THE BASICS

Acts 19:17
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Now we want to lay a foundation for knocking on the door and keeping a follow up strategy going. This article will assume first, that the prospect you are visiting has previously attended your church. Other articles in our library will support other types of visitation. Secondly, we will assume the reader knows little or nothing about visitation.

PRAYER

Romans 10:1
Brothers, my heart‟s desire and prayer to God … is that they may be saved.

Prayer is the most important part of the visit. Pray together before leaving the church, not in front of the prospects home. If your prospect looks out the window and sees people sitting in a car in front of their home, it can make for an uncomfortable situation. Praying inside the home silently as someone on your ministry team shares is always appropriate. I recall a visit I made a few years back with a new trainee. “All you have to do is pray as I share Christ with our prospect” I said. Well, as I began to share the gospel with our prospect, my trainee dropped to his knees and began praying loudly, “Oh God, save this wretched sinner!” I couldn’t believe this was happening. I continued as though I hadn’t noticed what my ministry partner was doing. Although our prospect received Christ that night, I explained to my new trainee that this is not be the best approach the next time.

THE APPROACH

Colossians 4:5
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.

Be sure not to park your vehicle on the grass or a flower bed, and try not to block in other vehicles. You don’t want to position your vehicle so it will have to be moved if someone in the home needs to leave. If there is a woman on your team, she should be the most visible person on the team at the door. This is much less intimidating for most people. Introduce yourself and the team members and state you are from the church immediately. If no one is home, be certain you leave a door hanger with church information, and a brief note to let them know you stopped by.

INSIDE THE HOME

Colossians 4:6
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Once inside the home, you can look for visible things to build a friendly conversation with. For example: Musical instruments, trophies, pictures, etc. Begin building a relationship with the prospect by talking about the things they like. Remember to retrieve any information that may be used for follow up and ministry. Do not take notes in front of the prospects. Stay focused on ministry to the individual. Listen for feelings, attitudes, perceptions and values as well as for facts. Pay attention and avoid interrupting. Never tune people out because you don’t like them, you disagree with them, or you find them dull. This time should not be rushed although you should not overstay your welcome either. Be Spirit led and use good judgment.

LEAVING THE HOME

Ephesians 5:15-16
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, …

Do not end your visit with a reason you must leave. (i.e. We have a meeting to go to, we have more visits to make, I’ve got to get home, etc..) The prospect should feel special enough that you have designated this time just for them. Praying with the prospect is a good way to conclude the visit, but always ask permission to pray for them and never call on them to pray, some people will be very uncomfortable with that.

KEEP GOOD RECORDS FOR ASSIMILATION

Colossians 4:9
… They will tell you everything that is happening here.

In establishing a visitation ministry, report back and record keeping are very important ingredients. A report back session gives opportunity to share about our ministry time for purposes of follow-up ideas and prayer. You can serve refreshments and turn this into a special time of the outreach night. A report back time also brings the paper work or reports back to the church. How will you carry on the assimilation process without this information? It is vital the information retrieved will be useful. The biggest problem I have seen when it comes to visitation reports, is a name of the members who made the visit and “Good visit” written on the form. What strategy would you use to assimilate the prospect with the term “good visit” penciled in on a report? Strategic detailed information must be captured if we are to be effective in outreach ministry.
These are the simple basics of a visitation ministry to get you started. When I watch the weekly attendance records for the churches we work with I can tell when they are not doing the outreach, because The growth starts to level off. Visitation still works today, just as it did in the early church.

For other free articles on ministry to inactives and other evangelism and outreach training for your visitation ministry, visit our library at MyChurchGrowth.com/library.

From the library of MyChurchGrowth.com
copyright ©2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
Where the complexity of church growth intersects with the simplicity of the gospel

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That’s No Way To Act!

By Rev. Rick Robinson

This week on the O’Reilly Factor on Fox News, Bill O’Reilly had an atheist as a guest on his show. The atheist claimed the church today has many atheist worshipping in it, they just don’t feel comfortable admitting it. I guess he wanted to encourage atheist to “come out of the closet” and out of their churches. I think the church is full of people that act like atheist much of the time. I am guilty of that sometimes just like you are. We don’t share our faith, we don’t believe God will provide our needs, we don’t spend time in prayer, reading the Bible and having fellowship with God. Neither does the atheistic guest that appeared on O’Reilly this week.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

It has been my experience in talking to atheist; they don’t usually come to be atheist by studying the facts. Genuine hard fact research (not opinion) will lead you to Jesus. The self-proclaimed atheist I have talked to, come to the belief there is no God through a hurt usually inflicted by a church member. Once when I was going door to door sharing Christ, an 83-year-old woman told me she did not believe in God, or heaven or hell, when you are dead it is over. While I talked with her I discovered that when she was a little girl, her parents got a divorce. The church they attended told them they were going to hell and could not be members anymore. At that point this woman decided it was easier to believe there is no heaven or hell, and no loving God, than to believe her parents are in hell. Friends, nobody is going to hell for getting a divorce. It is only possible to get there by not accepting the gift God gave us through Jesus Christ.

You are not all that likely to have a conversation with the rare atheist, but you are very likely to come into contact with another people group, called the un-churched. It is usually much harder to detect if This group of people are saved or not. (That word “saved” means “rescued from certain death.”)

The latest numbers on church attendance reveal that 60% of the people in Florida don’t attend church on a regular basis. (The national un-churched rate is about 58%) Florida is not even in the top ten states where people do go to church on a regular basis. Here are two positive things for the Florida church attendee to think about. First of all, we are not at the top of the bottom of the list. Vermont is the number one state in the U.S. for people who do not go to church with 77% un-churched. The second thing is–six out of ten people you come in contact with in Florida, are prospects for you to invite to church. Don’t proselytize, there are plenty of un-churched people to go around.

I have had a lot of conversations with un-churched people about spiritual and religious things. I also came up with a survey I use to find out how the un-churched are thinking. To the question, “If you were looking for a church to attend, what would you look for?” The number one answer is “Someplace I could feel accepted just like I am.” Now, this could indicate an un-willingness to change a lifestyle, but I think it is something those of us inside the church need to take to heart. I have lived in Florida all my life, and I have never seen workers picking oranges with a baseball bat. When we don’t take the time to talk with people who do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ, we are doing just that. It is like fishing with a scaling knife. Trying to clean the fish before you catch them only scares the fish away. Charles Roesel, (the man who led me to Christ) told me something a long time ago that has forever stuck in my mind. He said “Rick, I only catch the fish–I let God clean them.”

Are you guilty, like I am, of acting like an atheist at times? Do you live your life daily like the majority of un-churched, allowing a need to be accepted by the people around you to control your decisions? Are your picking fruit with a baseball bat and fishing with a scaling knife? There should be something very different about us that will speak clearly to the atheist and the un-churched around us. It will speak clearly to those of us inside the church to encourage us all to live the new life we have been given. It is the love of Christ. May it be evident to all that are around us.

Romans 12:9-13

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.

http://MyChurchGrowth.com

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