What kind of relationship do you have with someone, if you meet them, have a great time, and then walk away, never to call, talk, or see the person again? Not much of one is it?
In contrast, what about a relationship where two people meet briefly but then keep in touch through letters, emails, phone calls, and other get-togethers? What if they take time to interact and get to know each other? We’d label that a meaningful relationship.
If we want any kind of relationship, friendship, or romance to progress, we know we’ve got to expend some effort to grow the relationship.
As a church, we begin relationships with the people in our communities when we host outreach or holiday events. Sometimes they develop into a meaningful, long-term relationship with visitors, but in the majority of cases, they don't. Take time to consider some of the following thoughts and evaluate how your interactions with visitors.
Make your church outreach events more than Speed Dating
Unfortunately, instead of taking time to develop relationships with the guests who visit, many church outreach events are similar to the Speed Dating popular today. If you are unfamiliar with Speed Dating, this is where single people spend a few minutes with a potential romantic interest over coffee, dessert, or some shared activity (one recent speed dating event for farmers had folks weeding a field together) and then they move on to the next person, spend a few minutes with that person, and on to the next one.
Though lasting a bit longer, some churches offer a sort of speed dating experience to unchurched members of their communities. With fall events as an example, the church invites the community to a Community Thanksgiving Service and Christmas Caroling and Hot Chocolate. The visitors are hustled through the event and then leave, hopefully with a nice feeling about the church. The church staff breathes a big sigh of relief to have that activity over for the year. [Read more...]