This article was written by State Missionary, Rob Jackson.
Serving as a pastor, I always prayed our congregation would be warmer and more friendly. This type of church is contagious and attracts new members. As leaders, we can serve as models for fostering a gracious and loving church. Consider for a moment these seven simple ways you can help cultivate a warmer church family.
1. Be approachable.
Let each member know you have time to talk to them! People often say, “Brother Rob, I know you are busy…” I answer truthfully, “I am never too busy for you.” Again, be real and approachable.
2. Work on memorizing names.
This task is harder for some of us than others. Work at this discipline. As you pray for your church members, look at their pictures. Attempt to make a connection with the face. Come up with nicknames to assist. For example, Mary was a member of one of my churches. Each time I saw her, I would say, “Mary, Mary, quite extraordinary.” Or to my church member Wanda, I would always state, “Help me, Wanda, help, help me, Wanda…” These little things help me remember the person and relate to them. It doesn’t matter how good (or bad) you are with names. Prayerfully work on knowing their names.
3. Be with them.
Don’t “hole up” in your study. Instead, get among the congregation. For example, I try to sit with different people at Wednesday night services and walk around shaking hands and giving hugs. Make it a habit to greet people before and after each service personally.
4. Look at them in the eyes.
When you are talking to someone, look at them. Don’t glance over their shoulder to the next people waiting to speak to you. Instead, focus on the person in front of you as you give a look, a word, and a touch.
5. Write informal notes.
My pastor, Peyton Hill, sends handwritten notes. These notes make all of us feel like a million bucks. A text message is good, but a personal letter is 1000 times better. Take time to write a few cards every day.
6. Smile and laugh with people.
Being a Christian is fun. I sing. I joke. I laugh. Have fun and teach your congregation to have fun together.
7. Go out to eat with church groups.
I know you are tired. I realize that, at times, you need to get away. But also recognize that church members want to know you and spend time with you. When they ask you to join them (a class, a group, or a family), try your best to go. I realize that you cannot go every time but make an effort to go when you can.
These seven practices will grant you “brownie points” with your church. Each of them takes effort. However, I am convinced you will begin to see a warmer church family as members begin to emulate their pastor/leaders.
What are your thoughts? Contact us if we can help you in any way!
Rob Jackson, Director of Church Health, Rjackson@alsbom.org
Ken Allen, Director of LeaderCare, Kallen@alsbom.org