An idea: do this when guests are connecting
When we think of fishing, most of us think of all the energy, activity, and equipment necessary to to attract and catch a fish. When we are fishing for men, as Jesus called us to, we tend to pour our focus into parallel activities: attraction, invitation, decisions...everything until they are "hooked".
But when we take a closer look at fishing, we see that a different and more individual kind of attention takes place after a fish is caught. It has to be removed from the bait and the hook it was caught on. Each fish is usually handled individually by the fisherman and placed in a container appropriately sized. Then their heads are chopped off and they are scaled and cooked (OK the metaphor is breaking down and taking an ugly turn, but hang in there with me). In the same way (maybe not the "skinning and scaling"), a man or woman who has been"caught" by Jesus' followers, needs a more individualized attention than was previously given.
What this means for those who us who are helping others climb the Assimilayas is this: New people to Christ and his Church need to have more individualized attention once they are in our assimilation environments.
New people to Christ and his Church need to have more individualized attention once they are in our assimilation environments.
What is an "assimilation environment"? An assimilation environment is any place or program where you bring the fish after they have been caught. Many of our decisions for Christ take place at First Step with Gene. That's where they are "caught". The container we have fashioned for them to be placed is after this is a 7 week assimilation journey we call "The First Step Experience". Most churches have an equivalent: a 4 week growth track, an Essentials course, Starting point, 10 weeks of "Rooted". However long your container is and whatever it is called, the individual communication begins here.
What form does that individual communication take? For us it is a simple one: a mid-week email from me to every every person in the First Step Experience (FSX).
I was surprised at the reaction and responses to these emails. They are sent to the entire group on the Wednesday after each session of FSX and they have 3 goals:
- To Pray
- To Remind
- To Tease.
I pray on Wednesday mornings for First Steppers acting on the creative assignments we gave them for that particular week to reinforce the training they received. I open the email by letting them know I am praying for them as they carry it out. I warn them about the forces that will oppose them and remind them of the benefits of learning these new skills as they follow Jesus themselves. I even attached optional diagnostic tools to enhance the assignments, resources for growth, and links to help answer questions that the topic of the week might bring up.
After reminding them of a few things they will need for the coming session (time changes, bringing food for the potluck week, etc.), I then give them a teaser about the coming topic, the coming competition, what the prize will be for the winning table (movie tickets, books, coffee mugs, etc.) without revealing too much. I even give them a clue to guess what the new object is that I will be giving everyone for their backpack. All this increases the importance of the training we are giving them, the value of the assignments which work these new skills into their lives, and minimize attrition so that people stay in the "container" until their training is complete and they are fully cooked!
Here are the keys to effectiveness of these mid-week emails:
- They are short
- The info I feel they must have is in bold so they can scan it and get what they need quickly
- They can be responded to. They are sent from my email account so that if they are returned, I receive them. I always respond in some way, even if it is just to say thank you and to call them by name in the text. This makes them feel more connected and stay in the container.
This special communication is looked forward to by those who are a part of our assimilation environment (FSX). They know it's coming and I sometimes ask for a response just so we can build more personal relationships with them. This practice has helped minimize attrition and maximize connection.
...and emails are free!
- Do you communicate with guests engaged in your process during the week? If so, in what way? What is the content of that communication? Can they return it? If so do you return it?
- How could you leverage mid week communications to guests who are already engaged in your assimilation process?
- How could you make guests look forward to a mid-week communication from you?