“We are a culture craving relationship. In the midst of our crowded existence, many of us are living lonely lives. We live and work in a sea of humanity, but we end up missing out on the benefits of regular, meaningful relationships.” Andy Stanley
I emphasized the connection between relationship-building and assimilation in Relationships = Glue and in What Is Assimilation, but how can we build relationships? How can we be intentional about being relational? Here are some practical relationship-building tips that work:
- Lay a “relational foundation.” Obviously, it is good when people visit your church for any reason, but a church can get ahead of the relationship game if they practice relation-based invitations. When members regularly invite friends, family, neighbors–people with whom they already have established relationships–they get a headstart in the relationship-building race.
- Turn on the juice! Provide a casual gathering area for guests before and after worship services. Be creative. In good weather, these can be outside. Provide coffee, juice, bagels, donuts–some kind of light refreshments along with space to mingle. Staff the area with volunteers who are outgoing and amiable. Train volunteers to get to know newcomers by name and to invite them to an upcoming fellowship without being pushy! Above all, recruit volunteers who will be genuinely interested in others.
- Play “zone” coverage. Privately divide the worship space into logical, manageable sections. Recruit volunteers to be zone leaders to cover their area during the service(s). Instruct them to note newcomers in their zone and to make them feel welcome. Vounteers should make a point to also speak to their “zone guests” after the service and call them by name. Invite zone guests to an upcoming fellowship and to the next week’s service.