New People Reach New People
By Tony Morgan
Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners(MATTHEW 9:10)
Jerrod and Theresa came to Granger a couple of years ago. It was really by accident. They were looking for another church and found them selves in Granger’s parking lot. Only then did they realize that Granger was the church their neighbors had once invited them to attend. So they decided to stay and try out the service. The accident ended up changing their priorities, their marriage, and their friendships.
Spencer and Peggy came to Granger at the invitation of Jerrod and Theresa. Spencer and Peggy were struggling in their marriage and, as Peggy explained it, had definitely hit rock bottom. Their experience at Granger began with an invitation to experience new life in Jesus Christ. They willingly took that step and found a fresh start both spiritually and in their marriage.
Corey and Tina had visited churches in the past, but they just didn’t get it until Spencer and Peggy invited them to Granger. Spencer and Peggy knew what had happened in their lives, and they wanted to share it with others. Now Corey and Tina have started on the same journey. Tina says, We’re still really new, and we have a lot to learn, but we’re excited about it.
Corey adds, I’ve told a lot of my friends about Granger, and I can’t wait for them to come and experience Jesus here.
This is one of hundreds of similar stories that have been told at Granger through the years. A friend tells another friend about the life change he or she has experienced, and that encounter starts a chain reaction as God uses relationships to draw people to his church and to himself.
There’s no question that growth happens on the edges. It’s the people who are newest to church who have the opportunity to reach the most people for Jesus. They influence circles of friends outside the church who are not yetattending. Because they’re experiencing life change and a unique ministry, they’re excited to tell others. It’s like finally getting an engagement ring, experiencing the birth of a child, or getting a big promotion. You want to tell your good news to as many people as possible. When the Spirit is moving in a ministry and lives are being trans formed, that good news can spread like wildfire. Through the relational connections of people who are meeting Jesus for the first time, others discover the good news. It’s contagious.
We keep this in mind as we approach ministry at Granger. Here are just a few examples:
We start a creative message series every couple of months to generate new opportunities for people to invite their friends. To make the invitation easier, we create a postcard previewing the series and describing its essential details. The postcard explains everything someone would need to know before
visiting for the first time, including directions, service times, and information about children’s ministry.
We offer special events, not unlike Matthew’s dinner for his fellow tax collectors, to make it easy for people to connect with friends who don’t know Jesus and aren’t attending church. Sometimes these events offer nothing more than planned fun to allow Christ followers to gather and build relationships with their unchurched friends in a safe social environment.
We intentionally offer easy ways for people to serve in ministry and invite their friends to join them even when those friends aren’t Christ followers. For example, sometimes people will agree to help a local missions effort even though they wouldn’t consider stepping foot in a church service.
Growth happens on the edges. Is your ministry helping to fuel that momentum by creating attractive environments and helpful systems? Or are newcomers embarrassed to invite their friends to your church? This is a simple concept, but it’s one of the key differences between those churches that are adding people and those that are multiplying rapidly. You are not the key to attendance growth. The key to your church’s growth is the people who will walk through your front doors for the very first time this coming Sunday. You will not reach those people’s friends. They will.
It’s the people who are newest to church who have the opportunity to reach the most people for Jesus.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.