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The Value of Visitor Reception


By Tim Massengale


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Mark North turned into the parking lot of the First Apostolic Church and was immediately flagged down by a waiting lot attendant wearing a bright green vest.

“Pastor North?  Bro. Baker is expecting you.  You can park in one of the guest parking spaces just past the main entrance.”

Mark nodded and pulled ahead to the brightly marked ‘RESERVED FOR OUR GUESTS’ spots located beside the main walkway.  Grabbing his Bible, he got out and paused for a moment to take in the massively attractive building of glass and stone.  It was a modern looking structure with a distinct ‘church’ look to it.  The wide glass front arched up to a high tower, topped by a cross and flame – impressive to say the least.

Walking up to the entrance he was met by the door keeper who also greeted him by name, who then opened the door for him and motioned to one of the hostesses standing just inside the entrance.  The attractive young lady led him down a hall to the pastor’s office.

Sitting in one of the leather chairs positioned before the pastor’s desk, Mark shook his head slowly.  “Mercy me, Pastor – you didn’t need to go through all that trouble just to greet me.  I know this is the first time I’ve preached for you on Sunday morning, but you went all out!”

The elderly white-haired gentleman smiled and leaned back, one bushy eyebrow slightly arched.  “No trouble at all.  But was there something that appeared out of the ordinary when you arrived?”

“Well, just all the special effort you went to in order to greet me – the lot attendant, a door-keeper, the hostesses – I half expected a thirty-piece brass band to start playing!”


Visitor Reception Ministry

Elder Baker chuckled.  “Oh, that.  I just mentioned to my visitor reception director that you would be coming and what kind of car you drove.  You preached here about a year ago during the youth conference so most of them know you.  I just asked them to be on the lookout for you and to make sure you were directed to my office.  Really – we did nothing special.”

Mark nodded slowly.  “Then I’m really impressed.  So this is your normal welcoming process?  I don’t remember you talking about a ‘visitor reception department’ when we discussed leadership positions a while back.”

“Well, it’s not a department per se.  It’s just a part of my Ushering / Hostessing Ministry.  You know how I stress the importance of church visitors and visitor follow-up?  Well, visitor reception is an important part of that process.  You do much the same, don’t you?”

Mark grinned.  He unzipped his Bible case and took out a spiral-bound note pad.  “Okay.  I’ll bite.  Your student is ready for instruction.  To answer your question – no, I don’t have any special guest reception ministry at my church.  But it sounds like I probably need it, so full steam ahead, my friend – I’m ready with pen in hand.”

Elder Baker shook his head sadly and made a ‘tsk-tsk’ sound with his tongue in feigned disappointment.   “I thought I taught you better, my boy,” he said with a mock scolding voice.  “So school is back in session,” he glanced at his watch, “at least for twenty minutes until service starts.  You remember why I stress that visitors are so important to your growth?”

“Sure!  100% of my new converts will come from my church visitors.”

“Exactly. Your church services are the best outreach method you have.  Preaching is God’s number-one method of winning souls.  More souls will be saved as a result of someone inviting their oikos – that’s the Greek word for ‘household’ and it refers to your family, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances – than any other method of evangelism.  Now, you remember the two statistics that explain why visitors are so important?”

“Of course.  First, you told me that 94% of all who receive the Holy Ghost do so in some kind of church service or gathering of saints.  Secondly, you said that 96% of all who receive the Holy Ghost have come multiple times before they receive it – usually at least three to five times.”

Elder Baker nodded.  “Right.  And when you put those two statistics together it shows you two things:  First, if you can increase your flow of first-time visitors, you will increase your converts, and second, if you can get those visitors to come back several times they are more likely to receive the Spirit.  Less than four percent receive the Holy Ghost or are baptized the first time they come.  The best way to encourage guests to return is to have a good visitor follow-up ministry.”

Mark nodded.  “Yes, Elder, I know all this.  We have visitor follow-up working well at our church.  It has resulted in many home Bible studies and many more receiving the Holy Ghost.  But you never talked about visitor reception.”

“Well, forgive me. I should have.  Your guests are the most important evangelism prospects you have.  Like you said, 100% of your new converts will come from those who visit your church services.  It is important – in fact, critical – that their visit experience is a good one.  That way, when we invite them back, they will respond positively.”

Mark was busy making notes. Without looking up he said, “Got it. Keep going.”

“You may have heard of a study that Marriott Hotels did several years ago.  They found that those who visited their hotel made up their minds as to whether they would return within fifteen minutes of their arrival.  For this reason they go all out with their guest reception efforts.  My church tries to do the same.  There are seven key elements we try keep in place.  They are as follows:


Visitor Reception Steps

First is facility and grounds.  We put a lot of effort into making the church look attractive and pleasant.  Building painted, church sign attractive, walks swept, lawn mowed, flower beds weed free, flowers planted in the summer, parking lot without pot-holes and so on.  Churches with limited funds struggle with this, but paint and flower seeds cost little.  Much can be done with a little sweat and attention to detail.  The same goes for the inside – vestibule, restrooms and sanctuary.  I like to have someone from the outside – we use a professional but anyone who will be honest and forthright will work – come at least once a year and do a critique of our facility and services. It is easy to get used to the stained ceiling, the torn carpet and the musty odor.  But outsiders are not so forgiving.

“Second are our lot attendants.  Now, not every church has a parking problem but many do.  Lot attendants can be trained to help people find a parking spot without excessive searching.  But even if a church is small, they should consider having a ‘Reserved for Guests’ area close to the entrance.  Lot attendants can watch for visitors and direct them to these spots.  They can also provide members and guests with umbrellas if the church does not have a portico to drop people off.  Our lot attendants are trained to wave and smile until the lot is about 80% full, then they start helping people find an open spot.  This way it doesn’t feel like you are parking at the county fair. But the guests are flagged down and invited to park in Guest Parking.  This is what happened when you arrived.

Next are our door keepers.  Remember David said he would ‘rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.’ (Ps. 84:10).  We take this position very seriously.  They stand outside and open the door for all who arrive.  This helps mothers with small children and especially the elderly. There is something very classy about it, and it just picks up your spirit to be greeted with a warm smile and handshake.

Fourth is our hostessing team.  We put a lot of effort into selecting and training this group of ladies.  They must be warm, pleasant, and cheerful.  They greet the guests and direct them to our visitor reception desk. They are given a guest packet which explains what our church has to offer.  We put a lot of effort into designing this packet.  They are not cheap – but these visitors are our best prospects and, in truth, our future members; therefore worth the expense. She explains our Sunday school classes and nursery facilities if they have children.  She also gives them a ‘free pass’ to the Pastor’s Reception immediately following service.

“But the most important duty of the hostesses is the guest card information.  We train them to say, ‘Our pastor would love to greet you properly.  Would you mind if we get your names?’  She has the guest card on a clip board and fills it out for them.  This way we don’t struggle with bad handwriting.  She also says, ‘We would love to add you to our mailing list so we can inform you of future events, do you mind if we get your address?’  Very few say ‘no.’ By having the hostess fill it out we almost always get the whole card completed.


Into The Sanctuary

Next is our ushers.  Our hostess will introduce the guest to one of our ushers that are standing at the sanctuary entrance.  The usher’s job is to help them find a seat.  Now this is a critical step.  Our ushers are trained to always have a spot open, about half-way down, on the main aisle.  He works with the members to insure this spot stays open.  I don’t want our guests sitting at the back where all kinds of distractions occur.  I want them on an aisle so they can easily respond at altar call time without having to squeeze past a bunch of people.

“After the guest is seated, the usher then discretely goes to several people and reminds them that a guest has arrived and if they could, to go over and greet them.  This way, until service starts, people are being friendly and talking to the guest the whole time.  We also try to get a couple about the same age to sit by them.  If someone runs the aisles or if tongues and interpretation occurs, they lean over and explain what’s happening.  They also invite them to go with them to the front and pray at altar time.  This same couple will introduce them to me following service and I personally invite them to the pastor’s reception.”

Mark sat back, mouth agape.  “Wow!  I am impressed!  How long did it take you to get all this working?”

Elder Baker smiled lightly.  “This sounds good as I tell it, but believe me, it’s a work in progress.  It’s something we keep refining and improving.  But it took a good year of hard work to get the main pieces in place.  But I still meet with each group regularly to encourage them and go over the key elements.  It’s doing better now than ever.”

Outside the organ began to play, and Brother Baker glanced at his watch. “We better hurry this up.  Service is starting.

The sixth element is welcoming the guests.  Once the guest is seated the hostess writes their name on a ‘guest map.’  This is a simple map of our sanctuary with the pulpit and platform at the bottom and long boxes representing each pew.  She writes their name on the pew where they are seated.  If their name is hard to pronounce, she even writes it phonically.  This is then brought to me during song service.  Later I go to the pulpit, look right at them and greet them by name.  This always seems to impress them.”

Mark held up his hand.  “So do you have each guest stand and let the congregation clap for them?”

“No, we don’t.  Research has shown that guests are uncomfortable being singled out in this way.  They do like to be acknowledged, but not made a spectacle.  So I just greet them and invite them to the ‘Pastor’s Reception’ following service.  We also have a ‘friendly time’ during service where all are invited to step out and greet those around them.  I think that adds a nice, warm touch to the service.”

Mark made several more notes.  “And the last step?”

“It’s the Pastor’s Reception.  We have a room off the vestibule where we have coffee, tea, juice and some coffee cake.  As altar service begins to wind down I make my way back there.  The ushers and hostesses on duty that service go to the vestibule at altar time and greet any guests as they leave and invite them to the reception.  I love to work in the altar but we have lots of trained altar workers.  So after a bit I try to slip out when I see guests leaving so I can speak with them.  We try to keep the conversation light and let them ask the questions.  I don’t want this to turn into an interrogation or sales pitch time.”

“Wow!  I like that,” Mark said.  “But unfortunately I don’t have a room off the vestibule to use.”

“Neither did we.  For a while we used the vestibule itself.  We just set up a table with coffee and cookies.  We have also used the fellowship hall.  Really, I don’t think this need to be all that fancy.  Guests just like meeting the Pastor and talking with other saints.  They want to know that we are real people.  This time has worked well for us.  I hope you give it a try.”


Time to Preach

Out in the sanctuary the singing began and Mark closed his notebook.  Slipping it back into his Bible case he grinned ruefully.  “You seem to always do this to me.  Now I have to get up there and preach the mind of God and you have my mind going a hundred miles an hour in another direction.  I should have known better than to talk to you before service!”

Elder Baker laughed.  “Oh, I’m sure you will do fine.  I just gave you a piece of my mind – and at my age, I have precious little to share!”

Mark laughed and they stood to make their way to the sanctuary.


            If you would like a sample copy of job descriptions for lot attendants, door keepers, hostesses, and ushers, call 1-800-800-0247.  $3.00 plus postage.


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Posted in AIS CD - Church Growth, AIS CD - Featured Stories, NC - New Convert Care Ministry, OPGP - General Outreach Ministry1 Comment

20 Ways to Not Grow

photoTwenty Ways To Not Grow

Tim Massengale





Yesterday I drove past a local high school. On the signboard out front someone had placed the following sage observation: The only place that success comes before work is in the dictionary.


With that thought in mind, let me say that it is not excessively difficult to see a church grow, but it does require a certain amount of time, effort and work. You also need a plan, for no journey is successful without clear direction. And it requires having enough desire to work your plan consistently regardless of setbacks and disappointments. If a church will do these things, it will grow. As I have stressed often in this column: If we will do our part (go forth with a burden and sow the gospel seed) God will do His part (bring souls to full Bible salvation). This is His unequivocal promise (Psalms 126:6).


But then it hit me: Not every church wants to grow – or at least not enough to do something about it. They have this wonderful group of believers who gather several times a week to worship and hear the Word. There is a spirit of love and unity and blessing. They like their church the way it is. It is comfortable. They are happy. Of course, they would love to see new souls in the altars, but not if it requires changing anything and not if it requires more of their time or money.


So, here are some easy to apply guidelines to help you not grow. If carefully followed, they will make any church growth highly unlikely.


  1. Don’t think, talk, or preach about growth. Any topic but that. Talking about soul winning is fine, as long as no real plans or programs are discussed to see this happen.
  2. Don’t delegate any ministry leadership. Or at least, no more than you already have. If you already have a Sunday School Director, a Youth Leader, or a Ladies Auxiliary Director, fine. But stay away from delegating any new positions like New Convert Care Director, Home Bible Study Director, Visitor Follow-Up Leader, Promotions Director, Outreach Leader, Music Minister and so on. Be totally content with what you now have.
  3. Do nothing to help or encourage your leaders. Don’t give them a job description. Don’t help them learn to do their job better. No books, no magazines, no conferences, no seminars, nothing. Show no interest in helping them set goals or explore new plans.
  4. Don’t do annual planning with your leaders. Don’t even think about having an Annual Planning Retreat with all your leaders. Don’t brainstorm ideas or try new things or improve current plans and activities. In fact, don’t challenge them to do anything this next year.
  5. Don’t ask your leaders to plan on their own. Don’t ask for a departmental one-year plan. Don’t ask for any departmental goals or activities. This will encourage them to coast along and to be content with the status quo.
  6. Don’t meet with your leaders monthly. In fact, never meet with them at all unless they ask – and then cancel the meeting a few times or just keep it short and quick. If you do meet with them in any way, do it only once a year to put a few dates on a calendar. Regular meetings builds team spirit, shows that you are interested in their success, and encourages them to plan and reach for goals – and you would not want that.
  7. Don’t make anyone accountable for anything. No monthly reports, no follow-up on goals or plans. Don’t check up on anything. New converts? Visitor Follow-up? Home Bible Studies? Who cares?
  8. Don’t train your leaders to be leaders. If your leader grows, his or her department will grow. And if the department grows, your church will grow. God forbid.
  9. Don’t set any numerical growth goals. Don’t set goals for converts, new convert retention, home Bible studies, visitors, contacts, Sunday school, bus ministry, or anything. Stay away from goals of any kind. Because when you set goals, it just makes you feel guilty because you made no plans to help you reach those goals.
  10. Don’t be friendly to visitors. If this seems too extreme, be friendly at first, then ignore them. No guest parking, no greeters, no ushers, no guest packets, no welcome time – and when they slip out the door during altar call, don’t have anyone speak or invite them back.
  11. Don’t follow-up on your visitors. Since 100% of your converts come from your visitors, and few receive the Holy Ghost the first time they come, you don’t want to encourage any to return. Don’t call them, send them a letter, and especially don’t visit them. A visit has the greatest effect upon whether they return or accept a home Bible study – so don’t do that.
  12. Don’t push Home Bible Studies. Don’t promote it, don’t train teachers, and don’t try to get new studies for your teachers to teach. And especially don’t appoint a home Bible study director because he might try to do all three.
  13. Don’t train your saints how to be a witness. Just assume that growth is entirely a work of the Holy Ghost. If a saint has the Holy Ghost they should know how to witness. No training needed.
  14. Don’t start a Constant Contact Consciousness ministry. The CCC ministry just might encourage people to get in the ‘habit’ of witnessing. It’s much better to go month after month and never witness or invite anyone to church.
  15. Don’t start a bus, van, or car ministry. In fact, stay completely away from any children’s evangelism ministries. When you win a child to God you just might win their parents too. We don’t need that.
  16. Don’t advertise your church. Especially don’t let newcomers to your community know where your church is or what special ministries you might have to offer.
  17. Don’t try any new evangelism methods. Use only methods that were popular fifty years ago. Just because a method isn’t working is no reason to abandon it. After all, it’s the tradition that counts.
  18. Build small buildings on small lots. This keeps the congregation thinking small. Don’t even consider moving to a new facility. Too many memories and history in the old one. Better to just stay small.
  19. Emphasize ‘quality not quantity.’ This one always works. Make it sound like those who advocate growth are just playing the ‘numbers game.’
  20. Don’t pray for growth. Pray for the sick, missions, spiritual renewal, anything but growth!

Posted in AIS CD - Church Growth, NC - New Convert Care Ministry, OPGP - General Outreach Ministry1 Comment

How to Get More Home Bible Studies Than You Can Teach


By Tim Massengale


Without a doubt, home Bible study programs such as Search For Truth, Exploring God’s Word, and others, have been the greatest tool of evangelism in recent times. Thousands have been brought to the saving knowledge of Truth in the comfort of their own home by an individual with a burden, a Bible, and a Bible study chart. Entire churches have been raised up through this one outreach method alone. Because of its effectiveness, it is imperative that every church try to establish an ongoing Home Bible Study Ministry within their local assembly.

Home Bible studies fall into two broad categories: multi-lesson studies (often starting in Genesis and ending in Revelation) and single lesson studies that focus upon presenting the plan of salvation. Both types have been successful. The multi-lesson studies, which range from five to twelve lessons long, have historically had a 50% success rate, meaning that half or more of the studies taught result in an individual being baptized. The shorter lesson studies, which range from one to three lessons long, have had about a 10% success rate, meaning one person will be baptized for every ten studies you teach. However, the success rate of all studies will vary somewhat depending upon the skill of the person teaching it. Both type studies have their pros and cons. Many have had good success by first setting up a single lesson study and after teaching it, offering the individual a longer study. This combines the benefits of both studies and often results in more individuals won to Christ.

The success of a local church HBS ministry requires a focus upon two areas: trained HBS teachers and unsaved individuals willing to be taught. This article will focus upon the latter: how to get more home Bible studies. I am convinced that, with a little effort, any church, regardless of their size, can have more HBS then they can teach. Space will not allow me to cover all the various methods. Here are the top four:

Visitor Follow-up
Every visitor that comes to your church should be offered a HBS numerous times. First, a HBS brochure should be included in your guest packet. Also in the guest packet is the standard ‘guest information card,’ which often has several boxes that can be check at the bottom. One of these should be “I would like to know my Bible better. Contact me about a free home Bible survey course.” Every visitor that goes to the altar should be offered a home Bible study as standard procedure. Having altar cards and trained altar workers helps facilitate this. When the pastor’s welcome letter is sent out the next day it also can mention the availability of the HBS program. Finally, whoever makes the follow-up visit should simply ask, ‘Have you heard about our home Bible study program? No? Let me tell you about it!” Each time a visit is made (there should be at least three visits per year), a HBS should be offered. Follow-up personnel should understand that ‘no’ does not mean ‘no.’ It just means ‘not now.’ With this kind of emphasis, a majority of your HBS’s can come from an effective visitor follow-up ministry.

Open Your Home To A Home Bible Study
This once a year thrust is to encourage each church member to set up a HBS in their home. To encourage this, a church will often hold a simple contest during this annual promotion. Here’s how it works: Divide the church into two teams. Appoint a team captain over each. Team members are then encouraged to talk to their family, friend, co-workers, neighbors, and others and invite them to a home Bible study event to be held at their home. The church member provides the home, refreshments, and invitations. The church provides the teacher. A nice flyer is designed to promote these home Bible studies. Example: “Explore God’s Word! You are invited to participate in a twelve (or 7 or 5) lesson Bible survey course that covers the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Come enjoy an evening of friends, food, and interactive study of God’s Word!” A point is given for each lesson taught in a home. A banquet is held at the end of the contest with the winning team getting special recognition. With this method it’s important to have several trained HBS teachers ready to teach several studies a week.

Door-To-Door Quest Survey
Every church that wants to have a successful HBS program should plan to teach one or more HBS teacher training seminars each year. Trained HBS teachers should be encouraged to set up their own studies from those they know and meet. However, any teacher that cannot find a study to teach should be encouraged to get one with the Quest Survey. The Quest survey is taken door-to-door on a Saturday by the HBS teacher. It asks ten simple questions. At the end of the survey, a HBS is offered. The survey is designed to bring the individual to the place of seeing their need of God. Two hours of door knocking in a neighborhood between 10 a.m. and noon will give you one or more home Bible Studies. The results have normally been this: knock on one hundred doors and fifty will be home. Of those that are home, 30-40 will take the survey. Of those that take the survey, ten percent will agree to a home Bible study. The teacher should be willing to teach all the Bible studies they get. For a sample Quest survey and instruction sheet, see below.

Five-Souls I’m Believing God to Get a Bible Study With
This method has been very successful and works from the network principle of evangelism (reaching family, friends, coworkers and neighbors). Pass the ‘Five Souls’ slip out to all your saints on Sunday morning. Ask them to go home and, after praying about it, write down the names of five people that feel might be hungry for God. Bring the slips back that night and take up prayer and fasting pledges. Have them pray and fast for those five names for one week. The following Sunday all should come to the front and pledge to ask all five for a Bible Study that week. Anoint them the workers with oil, lay hands on them, and send them out with Holy Boldness. By doing this, many, if not most, will have one or more on their list accept a study. Offer to provide a teacher if they feel they cannot teach the study themselves. Why is this so successful? Simply because focused prayer and fasting works. For a sample slip, see below.

Many other methods
Newspaper ads, direct mail, telephone canvassing, fair booths, bus ministry parents, and many other methods have seen solid results. For a booklet entitled “Home Bible Study Success” that includes details and photocopy masters on the above four methods, plus many other principles of HBS success, call Indiana Bible College at 1-800-800-0247. Cost is just $6.00.

For too long our philosophy of evangelism has been askew with the New Testament pattern. But the commandment of Acts 1:8 didn’t tell us to tell the world “come hear.” The New Testament pattern was “go tell.” Motivation is the key. You must promote and encourage the Home Bible Study ministry consistently and effectively if you are to have home Bible study success. Train your teachers. Promote the ministry. Encourage studies to be taught. Help teachers find students to teach. Pray. Fast. Believe. The only way that home Bible study can fail is if you don’t do it. Go forth and teach!

Posted in AIS CD - Church Growth, AIS CD - Featured Stories, HB - Home Bible Study, NC - New Convert Care Ministry, OPGP - General Outreach Ministry1 Comment

Foundational Principles of New Convert Care


By Rev. Tim Massengale

Pastor Johnson smiled broadly and waved as Dave and Patti’s car pulled out of the church parking lot. Then, with a small sigh, he turned and walked back into the church. He could not help but feel a little apprehensive.

Dave and Patti were new converts. Both had been baptized and received the Holy Ghost during a revival about a month ago. This morning they had called and asked to meet with him at the church. They had some questions and were puzzled about several things they had heard from other members. Their questions had to do with holiness standards. He had answered them as best he could but he could tell they were not fully convinced. Carefully he had encouraged them to pray about the scripture he had shown them and to give the Spirit time to lead them into a better understanding. Afterwards they had prayed together. Dave and Patti said they felt better and both assured him that they would be in church Sunday. They expressed their love for the church and especially for the presence of God they felt during the services.

Pastor Johnson returned to his study and sat staring out the window, silently praying for this promising new couple. He asked the Lord for the wisdom to help them mature in the Lord. But so many converts had come in lately only to drift off after a few months. He could not help wonder if there wasn’t more that could be done.
Proactive New Convert Care

The above example is fairly common. Souls come in the front door and then frequently slip out the back. Often you will hear people say, “Well, they know the truth. If they want it they know where to find it. When they need God bad enough, they come home.” How sad! Too often we have come to accept a poor retention rate as inevitable. This should not be!

On the day of Pentecost over 3,120 new converts were born into the church that very first day. It had to be the work of the Holy Ghost to inspire the Apostles on how to establish these new Christians. The writer Luke records that after the three thousand were baptized, the new converts continued steadfastly in three areas (Acts 2:41-47): First, instruction (vs. 41, 42, & 46). Secondly, fellowship (vs. 42 & 46). And thirdly, a unity of involvement (vs. 44 & 45). Each of these are extremely critical to the growth of a new convert. If any of these three areas are neglected, the convert will struggle.

Around the turn of the century, the infant death rate was close to 10% – almost one tenth of the babies born in the world died the first few years. Infant diseases such as small pox, scarlet fever, influenza, and others took a heavy toll. Today, the death rate in America less than .04%. Why? Do mothers today love their babies more now then back then? No! The simple fact is, we have learned to care for newborns better. The same applies to the church. If we will learn to take better care of our new converts, we will see more solid, established Christians.

When an individual comes to our altars and receives the Holy Ghost or is baptized, they begin their new life much like a new born infant – very weak, very hungry, and very dependent upon their mother. They do not know how to live for God, how to pray, how to study the Word, or how to fight temptation. Someone must train them; someone must teach them – and that someone is us. If we abandon the newborn, it will not take long for them to die. You can be sure that the devil is going to do everything he can to make them stumble and fall. Somehow we must give them proper nourishment and provide the protection that will deter the devil’s attack. While there are many things that can be done to help strengthen a convert, one of the most important is what many call, ‘First Week Counseling.’
First Week Counseling

Research shows that most new Christians who backslide, do so within the first month – and many the very first week. The reason is that the devil will strongly attack the convert before they know his tactics or how to fight back. His attack usually begins the moment the convert leaves our services. Satan knows that the sooner he can cause them to stumble – and all new babies stumble when learning to walk – the better are his chances of getting them to give up and quit. We dare not let a new convert leave that service without putting something in their hands – both for strength and to defend themselves. For too long churches have used the “sink or swim” attitude once someone receives the Holy Ghost. Far too many are sinking. First Week Counseling can help prevent this.

First Week Counseling simply means that someone, usually the pastor or a trained assistant, calls the new convert the very next day and sets up an appointment to visit them that same week, usually in their home. The purpose of this visit is to teach a simple, short Bible study on the basic fundamentals of living for God. These are:

Your New Life. The convert needs to know what has just happened to him and how it fits into the new birth process. If they haven’t been baptized, baptism is explained. If they haven’t received the Holy Ghost, this is explained also. But what is mainly stressed is the “new beginning” that comes by being born again. This way we defeat a major tactic the devil uses against new converts: dragging up their past that’s now under the blood.

Three Essential Truths. The second topic is what many call the “three essential truths for new converts” – daily prayer, daily Bible reading and consistent church attendance. A convert needs to begin a daily prayer life immediately. The problem is, they often don’t know how to, or that they even need to, pray. To wait until lesson five of the new convert’s course to begin praying is too late. The same applies to the Word of God. They need to read their Bible daily, for this is their source of strength. But they don’t need to begin in Genesis, like the Bible was some kind of novel. They need to begin in the Gospels or the Book of Acts and read a chapter each day. They also need to know that every time the church doors are open to be there. The world’s concept of going to church is ‘Sunday morning only.’ Someone must tell them otherwise. These three basic truths – prayer, Bible study, and church – attendance are explained in a simple straightforward way. Often a handout is given that explains the basics of prayer, provides a beginning Bible reading chart, and also lists church service times.

The Devil’s Attack. We must warn the new convert that the devil will soon attack them. He may use family or friends to condemn their decision to live for God. He will try to make them stumble and sin. He will try to tempt them back into their old way of life. The new converts needs to be aware of this and be ready to defend themselves. And if by chance they do stumble and do something wrong – and all babies stumble while learning to walk – to get back up, tell the Lord they’re sorry, and try to never do it again. They need to know the Lord will forgive them. A favorite ploy of the devil is to tell the convert that, having stumbled, they are now forever lost – so they might as well quit. If someone doesn’t tell them otherwise, how will they know it’s a trick of Satan?

We Care. The last topic is very simple, yet so extremely important. The new convert needs to know “we are here, we care.” Many converts have no one close to talk to when they encounter problems because no immediate family is in church. Yet, they are often reluctant to call the pastor for fear they are imposing upon his time. So they battle alone and often fail. Someone needs to reassure them that they can call or come by any time. If we don’t come when the baby cries, the devil will! It is good to give them the pastor’s contact number, the assistant pastor’s, the new convert care director, and any others who can encourage them when they are down. Someone needs to be there. We must realize a new born baby is not like an adult – they must have much more personalized attention until they mature, and much more often.

In First Week Counseling these four subjects are only covered briefly. The objective is not to give them a comprehensive study, but rather to reveal a few basic principles and spark their hunger for more. More depth will be provided in each area by teaching a comprehensive new converts course at the church on Sunday morning. Every convert should be enrolled and strongly encouraged to attend.

It is also recommend that the pastor take a Bible Study night and teach a lesson entitled, “The Successful Christian Life” and expound on these and other important concepts of spiritual growth. But make sure you record it, because from then on every new convert should have this cassette tape or CD given to them the night they receive the Holy Ghost or are baptized.

In addition to the CD, many recommend giving the new Christian a new convert’s booklet. Several excellent examples are Victorious Living for New Christians (Kinzie), New Beginnings (Triplett), Growing With God (Alphin) and Ready Set Go (Cook). All can be purchased from the Pentecostal Publishing House.
End Time Harvest

This is First Week Counseling: a forty minute home visit, a booklet and a CD. Now they have some tools with which to fight the devil and spiritual nourishment with which to begin their walk with God. With this and other key methods, a church can see their retention rate increase to fifty, sixty, even seventy percent. Understand this well: God is not in the business of making backsliders. He does not want to send us a mighty revival only to have 90% backslide. But if we will prepare ourselves for a great end-time harvest of souls, and have a program in place to retain that great harvest, I believe that God will give it to us. Don’t you agree? So how ready are you?

If you would like more information on successful new convert care, call the Apostolic Information Service at 1-800-800-0247 and ask for “The Complete New Convert Care Program” by Tim Massengale. Cost is just $5.00.

Posted in AIS CD - Church Growth, AIS CD - Featured Stories, NC - New Convert Care Ministry1 Comment

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