How To Keep A Library Of (Physical) Books. I love me some books (especially the ones that deal with grammar). Ryan Holiday schools us on how to organize an incredibly large library.

I’ll be real clear about the benefits of owning physical books: You own them. They are there, physically, in your house. You cannot forget about them. A different app is not one click away. You can see patterns. You can gauge your progress. You can show off your efforts (and you should–reading is something to be proud of). You can look for what you need, find it on the shelf and satisfyingly say “Ah, here it is” and find the exact passage you marked for this purpose.

The secret of the five top. (via Seth Godin) There are some great nuggets in here for churches. Newcomers’ events, anyone?

In my experience–I’m sharing a hugely valuable secret here–you score a big win when you put five people at tables for four instead. Five people, that magical prime number, pushes everyone to talk to everyone. The close proximity makes it more difficult to find a place for the bread basket, but far, far easier for people to actually do what they came to do, which is connect with one another.

Father and Four Year Old Daughter Sing “Tonight You Belong To Me”(HT Tastefully Offensive) This is quirky, sweet, and hilarious all at once. Makes me want to learn how to play a little pink guitar.

If you’re a regular reader, you know that Fridays are usually reserved for archived posts. But that was before @MichaelMears tweeted this question yesterday:

Are you gonna blog any on connecting new peeps at Easter & follow up? Just an idea :)

Y’all know I’m not one to back down from a challenge. Unless it involves push ups. Or sit ups. Or chin ups. Or licking a scorpion. But give me a free idea for fresh content and I’m on that like stink on a monkey. So here we go, thanks to Michael…


Easter is over. You’ve put your good suit back in the closet, you’ve had your Sunday afternoon coma nap, and you’ve finished off the last of the leftover ham sandwiches.

So what now?

What do you do about the stack of guest cards that are sitting on your desk, waiting on your Monday morning arrival? How do you follow up with the people God sent your way? What’s the best way to turn a first time guest into a returning guest?

  1. Get good information. One of the cardinal sins of ministering to guests is getting them to your church, but not knowing they’re at your church. Prior to your first Easter service, remind your First Time Guest Team the importance of capturing good information. “Bob” written on a card is not good info. Get email, phone, address, family members’ names, whatever. Oh, and make sure it’s legible. [our guest info card]
  2. Provide a reason for them to leave their information. Some guests like to remain anonymous. While you should honor that, you should also make the information capture as painless as possible. We try to do that pre-service at our First Time Guest tent. It’s outside and in the way so that people (a) have to walk past it and (b) feel like that’s a “safe place” to find out where to go next. We also give ’em a gift bag as an incentive to stop by. And finally, we let the guest know that leaving their information means that a pastor will follow up via phone call or email to see how their experience was. We try to offset fears of someone showing up at their house on Monday night. (We also capture information in the service on a tear-off card, but the tent provides a face and a conversation and facilitates a friendship.)
  3. Send an immediate follow up email. If you can get a team of volunteers to enter information into a database as it comes, great. Many church offices close the Monday after Easter (ours does). In full disclosure, we probably won’t be able to get all of that info entered and finalized until sometime Tuesday, but you should strive to be more awesome than us. :) We use MailChimp and a pre-formatted email complete with links to our website, Starting Point event, etc. MailChimp keeps you from being blocked as spam whether you’re sending a few dozen or a few hundred emails.
  4. Make a phone call. This is such an easy “touch” that so many pastors leave out. I’ve made thousands of 2-3 minute phone calls in ten years at the Summit, phone calls that generally pay huge dividends in helping a guest feel like a huge church isn’t so huge. The purpose of the call is simple: I thank them for coming, ask about their experience, and invite them to a next step. My goal is always to be off the phone in three minutes – but that’s in honor of their time. If they have questions or want to talk more, I’ll spend whatever time necessary. [sample phone script]
  5. Provide a next step. For us, that’s Starting Point, and we specifically scheduled it for two weekends after our big Easter rush. We’ll pull out all the stops to get everyone to that event, which highlights various on ramps into the church, from small groups to service to baptism to covenant membership. Your next step might be a welcome reception, or a new believers class, or a party, or whatever. But provide a quick way for people to further connect.
  6. Empower your people to do their own follow up. Most of this weekend’s guests will be there at the invitation of a friend or family member. If you’re a pastor, your job is to equip them to do the work of the ministry. Don’t cheat ’em. Encourage them to take their guests to lunch and discuss what they’ve heard. Remind them to invite their guests to return again the following weekend. Or provide a resource: challenge them to study the gospel of John with their unbelieving friend, or to go through a deeper study like Christianity Explained

I’ll bet you know an item or two I’ve left out. I want to hear from you. Comment below!

Other good content from around the web:

I believe in the local church. I love the spiritual body of believers that God assembles in cities and towns and neighborhoods all over the globe. I love the diversity, the community, and the viability that the local church provides.

I’m a fan of the local church. I’m also a fan of biblical covenant community (translated: church membership). While you won’t find the words “church membership” in scripture, you’ll find the fingerprints of it all over the Bible. We were created to belong. We were meant to identify.

We talk a lot about the will of God in our lives, so I’ll let you in on a little secret, if that’s what you’re searching for: if you are a Christ follower, it’s God’s will that you be a member of a local church

Maybe not this church, but a church.

But there’s a reason I would say that you shouldn’t become a member of this church. Ever. There’s a reason you absolutely should not join any church that’s larger than a couple of dozen people. You should not pass “Go.” You should not collect $200.

If you won’t join a small group, the Summit Church is not the church for you.

I get it. I understand that small groups take up precious time out of your week. I understand it means you’ve got to make new friends, and some of those friends are odd ducks. I know that it means there’s another cadre of people in your span of care.

I also understand that we don’t actually require that you join a Summit small group in order to join the church. Some might disagree with that philosophy. I might agree with some of your disagreements.

But that’s why I tell people all the time, if you’re not planning on joining a group, don’t join this church. Don’t join any church that’s bigger than the cast of Downton Abbey. Run…don’t walk…to another church. Somewhere smaller. Somewhere where you can be more visible and more known. This joint is too big for you to feel like you can find community among thousands. We weren’t designed that way as humans, and it won’t work that way at this church.

If you join a church but don’t join a group, you’ll eventually fall through the cracks. That’s not a prediction, it’s a promise. You’ll come in enamored by the size and quality and the pizazz of your brand new church, but quickly find that you can’t know and be known like you’d hoped. A crisis or sickness or need will take you out, and there will be no one to shepherd you back in.

I can’t promise that joining a group will guarantee smooth sailing for life, but it’ll be much smoother to be one out of twelve than one out of thousands.

There’s a spot where you can join both a group and the church, as well as get on a ministry team, find out about baptism, meet some new friends, and eat chicken sandwiches (I love chicken sandwiches). It’s called Starting Point, and you can RSVP for a future event right now.

Groups: they’re what you’re wired for.

Last Saturday night we hosted our monthly Starting Point event: a three hour, no holds barred, newcomer extravaganza designed to help connected people become committed people. It was by far the largest group of people we’ve ever had to complete the process in one evening: well over 100 folks ate chicken and heard about becoming a part of the mission of the Summit Church and the kingdom of God.

One of the features of the evening is always a thorough explanation of the gospel. I figure it doesn’t make sense to have a captive audience and not explain the most important characteristic of who we are as a church. So for 15-20 minutes of the evening, we walk from Genesis to Revelation, capturing the big story of the great exchange: our death for Jesus’ life.

After the event was over, I met Tracy. Tracy is a 39 year old mom of three who is new to the idea of the evangelical church. She started coming a few weeks ago at the beginning of our All In series, which is always a great time for new people to show up. (“Hey. You’re a sinner. Plus, let’s talk about your idolatry of money. And then, we’ll punch your grandma in the face.”)

Tracy told me that things “started clicking” in the middle of this series. She understood the gospel in the way she never had before. Things began to make sense. Jesus made sense. She came back week after week to hear more. She showed up at Starting Point, where she was inundated with another gospel presentation and a bonafide, genuine, bow-your-head-and-close-your-eyes, nobody-looking-ar0und invitation.

But it wasn’t until after Starting Point, when Tracy sat down with Drew, her table host, when the gospel stopped being intellectual and started being personal. Drew wisely walked her through her story, connected her story to God’s story, and asked the question, “Do you understand this?”

Tracy replied that she did. She got it. She recognized her sin and her need for a savior.

And then Drew closed the deal: “Is there any reason why you wouldn’t make this decision right now?”

There wasn’t. And on a little black folding chair on a fall Saturday night, Tracy met the creator of the universe and the redeemer of her soul.

Too many times, we’re content to share content. We toss out lots of information about how salvation happens, but we stop short of asking the question and closing the deal. We walk people down the Roman Road, but we fail to steer them to a point of decision.

I’m thankful for table hosts like Drew who listen carefully to the voice of the Holy Spirit. I’m grateful that nearly every month at Starting Point, we are seeing stories of life change. Not necessarily because people are hearing the gospel for the first time, but because an individual is looking them in the eye and asking them to deal with the gospel for the first time.

 

Our church is currently smack in the middle of a series called “All In.” If you’re not a part of the Summit, All In is a movement that is part capital campaign, part mission fund, part small group & ministry team push. (You can read more about All In here.)

Yes, there is a financial component to All In. And no, that has not been the only push we’re making. All In is really about a person’s entire life: financial, community, service, mission, holiness…you name it.

As a staff, we’ve been praying for our congregation (and ourselves) to embrace all of All In. And I had faith that would happen, but not necessarily enough faith to believe God for what I’ve already personally seen and experienced:

  • The gentleman who sought out our Starting Point director on Sunday morning to tell him “I’m all in.” This guy had had a couple of conversations in recent weeks about baptism, and was digging in his heels that he didn’t agree that he needed to be baptized. And yet, this series made him rethink that stance, and he was baptized Sunday morning.
  • The 3-4 conversations I had with people this past weekend who approached me out of the blue to ask how to become a covenant member of the Summit. In nearly ten years of ministry here, I can’t remember 3-4 unprompted conversations about that subject in that time frame.
  • The new believer I spoke to Sunday who said she didn’t really even know what tithing was, but she and her husband were excited to sit down and figure out how they could start giving to the mission of God.
  • The seasoned believer I spoke to that has never left the United States, but has committed to a mission trip to India in early 2013 so she can share the gospel with one of the most impoverished people groups on the planet.

Oddly enough, while these subjects have been alluded to, none of them have received top billing in this series. But what we’re finding is that All In is really causing people to consider going all in. Go figure.

I’m beyond excited about this movement. I’m thrilled for the stories I’ve heard and know I’ll continue to hear. I’m honored to be a part of a church to understand what it means to go all in.

Need to take your next step? Here’s how you can make it happen: