by Jeff A. Jenkins
It has been a personal experience, and I have heard it from church leaders my entire life. How can we get new members involved quickly so that they will stay with us? How can we get new members get to know people so that they will feel like they are a part of the congregation?
There have been numerous efforts, programs, and ministries to try to encourage new members to stay with the church. Some of these have worked very well, some have worked relatively well, and some don’t seem to work at all.
The best program I’ve ever seen is one we call Friends & Family. The name of the program is very descriptive. It is a ministry that encourages new members to quickly become friends and family with others who are already a part of the congregation.
The objective is to help the new member, new family, or new Christian get to know other members of the congregation, get them integrated into the life of the church, and assist them in getting involved in at least one ministry of the Lord’s work. As most of us know, involvement often means faithfulness to the Lord and His Church.
Here are the steps that will help make this program effective:
- The Friends & Family team or teams will be assigned a new member, new family, or new Christian by the program coordinators. They are given all the information necessary to contact them and invite them to the Friends & Family meeting. The team is asked to meet with the new member(s) within 30 days of receiving their name.
- The team rotates hosting the meeting in the homes of the team members. The idea is to get to know each other.
- Once the team hosts the assigned member(s), the team should notify the program coordinators. The team should share with all relevant information that is gleaned during the meeting. The coordinators will pass that information on the next F&F team who hosts the new member(s) next. The new member(s) will be assigned to a different F& F Team the following month.
- This process will continue for three months. At the end of three months, the new member will have visited with three F&F Teams, and they should feel a part of the church family.
- At that point the new member, family, or Christian is no longer involved with F&F.
- Our prayer is that each new member, family, or Christian will join a Care Group at the end of three months and have selected at least one ministry to be involved with in the church. The Friends & Family Teams are asked to help facilitate that in any way they can. A handout is made available at the end of the meeting, which we hope will help you get started in this facilitation process.
A team can consist of an individual, a husband and wife, a group of two or three individuals, families, or any combination of any or all of them. Teams can be formed from the names of those who have volunteered to be part of this ministry. Families and individuals can also go to others in the church that might like to be a part of the team and invite them to participate. If new teams are formed all team member names should be given to the coordinators.
Jeff A. Jenkins preaches for the Lewisville Church of Christ in Lewisville, Texas. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.