One last common mistake church's make when assimilating guests
Mistake #3 Putting a teacher in charge
I am a good driver. I have a good record. In part, that is why my friend Mark lent me his brand new tricked out trailer to take my family camping in at Big Sur near Carmel on the California Coast. It's my family's favorite place to camp and site #63 is our favorite site: 5 colossal redwoods are on it and there is forest on 2 sides of it. When we arrived, I asked my dad and my wife Michelle to get on either side of the trailer so I could back into the sight with the help of their direction. As I was responding to their audibles, my wife got distracted by a cyclist and stopped directing. I took that to mean "proceed".
That's when I heard the grinding.
This was the sound of the retractable porch awning being slowly ripped off by a redwood that I was now rubbing up against. My dad began yelling, "Turn the other way!" which of course I took to mean "do the opposite of what I previously asked you to do". That's not what he meant.
That's when I heard the snapping.
This was the sound of the black water pipe cracking over a large rock the trailer was now straddling. My dad's next directive was unmistakeable: "Get out of here! Get out of here!". I proceeded to do so: driving along the campsite loop, leaving a trail of black water behind me and along the the front of every campsite in the loop.
That's when I heard the cursing.
The Curtis' had arrived. Their good driver, with a good record, was no match for the unfamiliar task of backing in a large trailer into site #63.
Now take a hard right with me. Sometimes guests at your church are returning, loving the environment you've created for them to worship and explore their faith. It's becoming their "Site 63" for pursuing God. They even want to bring their family members. Then they sign up for the class that connects them to the church, its beliefs and its ministry and something unexpected happens: a grinding sound of sorts, though not the sound of wood against metal. Its the sound of the class being led by a good Bible teacher as opposed to someone who engages their trust and involvement.
You see, just like it takes more than a good driver to back in a long trailer into a obstacle ridden campsite, it takes someone different than a good Bible teacher to lead people through an experience that connects them well to their new church.
What kind of person does it take?
I will answer using the vocabulary of Gallups Strengthfinders Test. It takes WOO. WOO is a strength in the form of an acronym that stands for "Winning Others Over". The description for this strength is as follows:
You enjoy the challenge of meeting new people and getting them to like you. Strangers are rarely intimidating to you. On the contrary, strangers can be energizing. You are drawn to them. You want to learn their names, ask them questions, and find some area of common interest so that you can strike up a conversation and build rapport. Some people shy away from starting up conversations because they worry about running out of things to say. You don't. Not only are you rarely at a loss for words; you actually enjoy initiating with strangers because you derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection. Once that connection is made, you are quite happy to wrap it up and move on. There are new people to meet, new rooms to work, new crowds to mingle in. In your world there are no strangers, only friends you haven't met yet -- lots of them. -Clifton StrengthsFinder Theme
This strength means that no matter what the agenda is at your connection environment, guests attending will likely be engaged, "won over" to your church, keep coming to all the sessions, and feel a sense of trust for the leadership and vision as a whole when they are done. That's what the WOO factor can do.
So if the mistake here is putting a Bible teacher in charge, the solution is this:
Use someone who will win them over.
Of course this person has to have sufficient Bible knowledge. But in the hands of someone with WOO, you will decrease attrition and increase connectedness. I think this is important enough to consider using the Strengthsfinder test on candidates who will front your connection sessions.
It will be like having a parking expert back your trailer in while camping...it just fits.
- Who is your front man or woman for the sessions of your connection class/experience? What kind of environment does that person's influence create for your guests?
- If you could pick any person at your disposal to front these sessions, who would it be? What would it take to equip them to engage your guests at this level?
- In your opinion, why would a Bible teacher have potential challenges leading your sessions with guests? As you answer, consider attrition and some of the factors in the last post on giving guests an experience instead of a class.