Personal Care of Visitors and New Converts
By David Bernard
Growing a great church does not require exceptional ability as much as care for people. When people are in need, ministers should be available to encourage, pray, counsel, listen, laugh, and cry. People today are starving for love. Many have suffered abuse and rejection, and they need someone who cares. Many people have been hurt by authority figures, including ministers, and they want to find out if a pastor and church will truly love them before they make a commitment.
Personal care means treating each person as important and developing policies and procedures to implement this principle. Especially as it grows, a church must take practical steps to ensure that contacts, visitors, and regular attendees do not fall between the cracks. In our church, we follow up regularly on our contacts and visitors through personal letters, telephone calls, and mail-outs that advertise special events.
First-time visitors receive a letter from the pastor and a telephone call from the outreach team with an offer of a home Bible study. When people begin to attend our church regularly, we add them to our regular list. This designation does not make them voting members, but we treat them as part of our fellowship regardless of their experience with God or level of commitment.
We add them to our attendance roll, assign them to a care group, give them an information packet and church directory, invite them to a newcomer’s potluck dinner, and encourage them to attend a one-night class that introduces our church. The newcomer’s packet provides information on home Bible studies, discipleship classes, care groups, and our church’s vision, structure, leadership, and ministries.
Our goal is to make them feel part of the church as soon as possible. If they are absent on a Sunday, we mail them a church bulletin, and the pastor or another minister will call to see how they are doing.
David K. Bernard is pastor of New Life UPC of Austin, TX, out of which have come 16 daughter works; superintendent of the South Texas District; and president of Urshan Graduate School of Theology.
From: Global Impact Newsletter, UPCI. September 2009