HOW TO CONDUCT AN ASSIGNMENT SERVICE
J. T. PUGH
PURPOSE OF THE ASSIGNMENT SERVICE
At the very outset of this consideration we need to observe that the Outreach Director is a leader. You will be a leader of a service each week known as the ” assignment service.” This is to be looked upon, not as a simple gathering for assignments, but a service to be taken hold of and executed with purpose and dignity. There should be a particular planning which goes into it. It is a service which has prayer, but it is not altogether a prayer meeting. Perhaps there are other nights that are designated in the weekly schedule as prayer meetings. This is an assignment and visitation service. The people who have come have come precisely for that. They can do the major portion of their praying before they come, after they leave or during a particular meeting which is designated as a prayer meeting. This is not to say, of course, that if God moves with a special burden and strong dealing that the spirit is to be quenched.
However, it is observed in the realm of good leadership that once a purpose is held firmly in mind the objective is more quickly and completely reached. You will need, of course, the hovering, helping presence of God. If you gather sincerely in Jesus’ name you can be assured of this. He has promised to be with the worker until the end of the world. He will be with them in the assignment service and stand beside them when each door is knocked upon.
HOW TO PROCEED
As a leader, you are to inspire. There will be no time in the assignment service for a long pep talk or harangue. The people present get preached to in other services. They also have opportunity to hear and give testimonies in other services.
All that will be needed is a few short words that have been prayed over. These words are to be spoken with deep feeling. Tears in the eye and on the cheek could speak louder and go farther than any long-winded speech which we may think of. Most of the effectiveness of the service without a doubt is ascertained before it starts. The praying which the Director has done, the extensive preparation which he has made will be a telling factor once the service gets under way.
The Director should greet each worker very cheerily. A sincere appreciation personally expressed to each one of them goes a long way. Since you are the leader, of course, you are expected to push the Outreach program. The workers come along all together because of a sincere concern for the lost.
The Outreach Director will need to manifest a buoyant assurance. There will be some coming for their first time and others
who come only out of a sense of duty. Inwardly, they are nervous concerning the prospect of meeting strange people. They will need encouragement from the Outreach Director.
The Outreach Director is not to waste the workers’ time. The assignment cards should be all filled out and ready to go before the first worker enters the room.
The assignment cards should be grouped in groups of five in each group. It will not be possible for a given couple to visit five
homes in one night. Some addresses are hard to find and some people will not be found at home. Two or three visits is about the
rule for one evening. This gives the visiting worker-couple a leeway of two visits. The workers should be sent out two by two.
If you have called the workers on the phone prior to the meeting you will know who is coming to the visitation service. This gives
the Outreach Director a good advantage. He is able to make the assignments for the visits according to the people who are coming. He knows their personality traits and just about who they would fit in with, especially if he’s acquainted with the
prospects that are being called upon. It is amazing how many prospects the Outreach Director will come to know. If he does not meet them personally, he will come to know them by the information conveyed to him orally and in writing concerning them.
This knowledge will stand in good stead when he is sending workers into the prospects’ home. Even the best grouping and assigning, however, does not leave the assigning service without adjustments that need to be made. This will happen every week, but as time goes on the Outreach Director becomes more adept in taking care of this.
Under no circumstances is the Outreach Director to allow people to mill around in the foyer or other places around the church building while he takes care of things which should have been well in hand before they arrive. All work needs to be done before the workers arrive. He needs to be present at the door to greet them.
Many an Outreach program is killed because of the uncertainty, wasted time and quandary that takes place before the assignments are made. The Outreach Director knows that the workers have sacrificed to come. The least that he can do is to
conserve their time, arrange a program concisely which they can respect and give them the loyal support of his prayers, cheery,
assured presence and other help.
It should not be necessary for the workers to be in the church more than thirty minutes at the most. Ideally, if the assigning
can begin on time and end on time, this is best. However, what is ideal and what finally is workable are two different things. But at least we can strive toward the ideal.
It is best for the Outreach Director to couple the weak worker with the strong competent worker. Often you will find that the strong will tend to go together, leaving the weak alone, uncertain and fearful. It is precisely at this point that the help of the pastor, no doubt, is needed. If he is present to personally make the assignments they will be received with less questioning and perhaps carried out more faithfully. This does not relieve the Outreach Director from the responsibility of doing all the previous arrangements, however.
During the assignment service a couple of successful contact reports often proves helpful. These serve to lift the spirits and to assure those who may be timid.
Do not feel discouraged or apprehensive if adjustments, both in the assignments and groupings has to be made. It should be our goal to keep these at a minimum, however.
Do not refer to the ones who may not be present. This is a negative approach which does no good at all. The same amount of time should be lavished upon the ones who are present. They deserve your utmost help and sincerest compliments.
Be positive in everything.
Refuse the negative note.
Always look upon the bright side.
Give out the assignment cards with a happy expectant note. Have a prayer to sweeten the spirit. Practice some smiles to sweeten the face. Give some mints to sweeten the breath.
SCHEDULE FOR ASSIGNMENT SERVICES
We may think here about a suggested schedule of an assignment service. The best night of the entire week for visitation in most places is considered Thursday night. Friday night, in many families, would be taken up with shopping, usually. Saturday finds people gone and also the workers are busy preparing for Sunday. To visit earlier in the week is too early because the impact of the visitation will wear off before Sunday. Promises that are given earlier in the week are not as readily fulfilled as the ones in the later part of the week.
The clock time for the meeting should not be later than 6:30 to 7:00. Every church should have at least one visitation night. This is not to say that they should not also have a day period, but there are some people who can only be contacted at night. It is here that you usually find the family together. Acting upon them as a family unit has its advantage.
Some churches have Saturday visitation for the bus routes and for the men of the church. Others have Sunday afternoon for visitation for the youth of the church. They usually call upon the older people of the church, visit the hospitals and youth prospects. Wednesday is a great day for ladies’ visitation and also for Sunday school teachers. This is early enough in the week for a report to be made to the Outreach Director of who they visited so that there would be no duplicity.
The Sunday School Superintendent of visitation could file a report with the Outreach Director to alleviate any possibility of duplicated effort.
Some churches have dinner at church on Thursday evening. The men getting off of work, instead of going home, come directly to the church. Food has been brought in and the families eat together there. This conserves time and they are able to go directly into the visitation work from the church. These particular churches also arrange babysitting service. Older women who do not risk themselves to visit at night take care of the children. This frees husband and wife teams for the essential work of visitation.
A meeting like this perhaps may be more fluid inasmuch as men get off from work at different times. Since there will be different arrival times it may be more difficult to have a definite assignment service. This makes for a demoralized condition if the Director is not right on top of everything. He must assuredly know the whereabouts of everyone and his contact with them must be on a very forceful and personal basis.
The departing time for the workers from the church to go out and do their visiting should not be later than 7:00 or 7:30. The point is to get them out quickly without leaving the impression of frustration on the Director’s part. Time can slip by and, at the most, each worker has only an hour and a half or two hours to visit.
In spite of all precautions, there will be some delays. Some will need to make arrangements for their children. It is good, if possible, to have some people at the church to help take care of the children. There will be questions also relative to directions. This is where a large map on the wall of the visitation room is handy. Each individual also needs a map of his own.
Some, of course, plainly love to talk and will loiter in the foyer or other places of the church. Some like to fellowship more than the work of visiting. It is here that the Outreach Director must exercise patience and tactful insistence. All of the workers should be urged to return to the church. In order to facilitate this, they should be urged to make their first call the farthest point away from the church. Thereafter, each succeeding call they make brings them closer to the proximity of the church.
THE REPORT MEETING
They will need the discipline factor that is connected with the report service after visitation. They will be motivated with a desire to have good visits. Then, of course, they will disclose whether they completed all of their reports or not. This is a further incentive to try to reach them all if possible.
The inner relation of the spirit which is felt during a report service is strongly needed by the workers. Some workers have had poor response, while others have had tremendous response. When the discouraged ones hear the good reports of those who were successful, it helps them to leave the meeting with a good taste. They will be more than apt to show up next time and try it again.
They need to return the soulwinners’ helps and equipment which they may have carried with them on visitation. Some of them
may wish to keep these tools in their car since they expect to be doing other calls. This, of course, the Outreach Director cannot refuse. However, it is a foregone conclusion that it will be worn out or torn up quicker if it is carried to their homes. This should not be a deciding factor toward refusal. Visiting is what you want from those who you are leading. The investment of a small amount of money in tools is negligible when you think of the overall worth of the witness and getting the gospel out.
The people should return to the church by approximately 9:30. Ordinarily, by 9 o’clock, it is too late to knock on a door of a perfect stranger. Of course, all of this will vary. Some will have difficulty locating the house they are sent to. Some, perhaps at best will have faulty addresses. Some will contact people who are hungry for God and in this situation they will need to linger longer.
When the people return for the reporting service the Director should greet them, as much as possible, personally. He should
rejoice with those who have been successful and encourage the ones who may have become discouraged.
It is most advantageous, as has already been stated, to have a few oral reports of the more successful. Assemble them as quickly as possible. All of the workers do not have to be there at the beginning. However, it will be good to have a sizable number of them present. During the process of the service perhaps new names will be mentioned. One prospect will identify other prospects, disclosing the fact that he knows someone else who may have been reared in Pentecost or is a backslider.
The ones who have been visited should be prayed for. Before the service closes the Outreach Director should again express his appreciation to each one for their attendance at the meeting. They should be urged to work upon others and try to get them to come.
The Director should watch the time. After all, you do want these workers to come back. The over-all work needs to be conducted in as concise and energetic a way as possible. Yet, we want it to be practical and not just a hit and miss operation. If the workers have children with them, of course, they need to get them home before it is too late. Some of them may have engaged baby-sitters who need to be released.
Before the Director, who will be the last one to leave, departs he should tabulate the oral information which he has received so that it can be included on a permanent file card. He should prepare his report to the pastor. It will more than likely be too late for him to transfer the information from the return visitation slips to the permanent file card. This will have to wait until another day.
It can already be detected here that the responsibility of the Outreach Director can be very detailed. However, it is one of the most worthful avenues that anyone could step into. It is also exciting and very rewarding.