How to Follow Up on Those Reached
BY: LARRY LEWIS
Certainly, outreach should be a top priority in the life of any New Testament church. Just as important as reaching people and winning them to Christ, however, is the matter of developing them in their faith and witness.
D.L. Moody reportedly said, “I would rather train 10 soulwinners than win 10 souls.” He rightfully concluded that our task is never done until the saved are growing in the Lord and are getting people saved. Perhaps this can be called “inreach.”
The following are some methods a church can use to aid new members (and old members) in their spiritual growth.
In-depth Counseling at the Altar
At every service have the deacons come forward at the invitation to counsel with any who make decisions. These deacons must be trained in dealing with the unsaved, the backslidden, those transferring membership, etc. The deacons counsel from the open Bible, those who have made decisions, pray with them, and assure them in their commitment.
No one should simply be asked to “fill out a card!” Everyone should be dealt with thoroughly and personally, and everything possible done to assure that his decision is meaningful 104 and real (Mack R. Douglas, How to Build an Evangelistic Church, Zondervan, p. 81).
Guided Bible Study
Those who come forward-adults, youth, or children-should be given a Bible study booklet to guide them in meaningful studies in such pertinent subjects as the Christian experience, prayer, the Spirit-filled life, etc. This is a “fill-in-the-blank” type booklet with five study lessons on these various subjects. You may wish to use materials entitled New Church.
Member Training Workbook for Adults, New Church Member Training
Workbook for Youth, and New Church Member Training Workbook for Children, published by the Baptist Sunday School Board. These can be ordered from the Church Materials Department, Baptist Sunday School Board, 127 Ninth Avenue North, Nashville, Tennessee 37234.
New Member Orientation Classes for All Ages
An appropriate person (perhaps the pastor or pastor’s wife) should teach a class for all new adult members during Training Union time on Sunday evenings. The class continues for five weeks and graduates are awarded a certificate. Another person should teach a class for new members, grades 1-6, on Sunday morning during Sunday School. Also, a class should be held for youth.
Staff Conference with Every New Member
Shortly after a new member joins the church, the pastor or one of the ministers should visit in that new member’s home for a personal conference. A profile sheet or member survey card should be filled out for the church files.
The profile sheet contains pertinent information such as past church work experience, special skills or talents, and particular interests or needs. (This becomes a file of potential workers for the organizations.)
Seek to involve every member, as soon as possible, in some
kind of church responsibility. People grow faster, study more, and are more faithful if they are involved in a place of personal service.
Deacon Visit to Every New Member
Shortly after a new member joins, a deacon should visit the home. The deacon has a packet of pertinent materials, including tracts on prayer, the Spirit-filled life, Bible study, etc., and copies of the church budget, a recent financial report, and a church brochure.
The deacon should go over this material with the new member and let him know he (the deacon) is available in any time of need, day or night. Of course, both deacon and staff should seek to win to Christ any member of the family who is unsaved.
Deacon-led Family Ministry Plan
Every member of the church should be assigned to a deacon. He will be the deacon-sponsor for the member’s family. Each deacon has about 20 families in his zone. The deacon visits at least 2 of his families every week, thus visiting each family several times each year.
He also visits them immediately in time of death, sickness, or crisis, and is on call anytime, day or night. As already mentioned, he visits the new members in his zone the week they join the church.
Complete materials for the deacon-led family ministry plan have been prepared by the Church Administration Department of the Baptist Sunday School Board and are available through the Baptist bookstores.
These materials include the deacon notebook, the family card, the monthly report card, the referral card (used if deacon needs to refer a person to the pastor or someone else), and a pamphlet explaining how to set up and operate the family ministry plan (Howard B. Foshee, The Ministry of the Deacon, Convention Press, pp. 84-89; 95-99).
New Member Banquet and Program
Once each quarter, it is good to have a banquet welcoming new members.
Old members come, bringing enough food for their own family plus an additional family. Of course new members and their families are honored guests and are not required to bring food. (New members, grades 1-6, should bring a parent.)
The staff, including the pastor, serves the meal as old and new members mingle in a great time of fellowship. Following the meal, each staff member gives a 10-minute resume of his duties and promotes his particular ministry. After the program, there should be a time of fun and directed recreation.
New Member Sponsor Program
The new member sponsor program includes assigning every new member to a mature member for cultivation and followup. Hopefully, the new member sponsor can live in the near vicinity of the new member, and be of the same sex and age.
Ideally, the new member sponsor becomes a real and personal friend, and not just a sponsor. Of course, someone has to be assigned the responsibility of selecting sponsors every week, of sending a letter informing them of their assignments, and of receiving their reports.
The letter instructs the sponsor to: (1) visit the new member every week for four weeks and at least once a month for six months; (2) invite the new member to the sponsor’s home for a meal and for fellowship; (3) offer to provide transportation to church for Sunday School, Training Union, or worship services. The letter also contains three self-addressed, postagepaid report cards to be returned, one at the end of the first week, one at the end of the first month, and one at the end of six months (Douglas, Evangelistic Church, pp. 85-86). (See Appendix.)
Automatic Enrollment in Sunday School
Perhaps the greatest organization for new member follow-up and cultivation is a vital Sunday School class and department.
An enrollment card should be filled out on every new member the week he joins and the appropriate Sunday School worker should contact the new member immediately. With his consent, he is automatically enrolled in Sunday School.
All of these methods, and more, are needed if you are to successfully disciple the new convert and nurture him in his faith and witness. You should do everything necessary, and all that is possible, to help him grow in the Lord.