Easter provides a great opportunity to help unchurched people take a first step toward Jesus and to help “stuck” Christians take a next step toward maturity.
Discipleship is a pathway, but we often treat it like a destination. Research has found that vibrant churches are twice as likely than comparison churches to have sequential programming that moves people toward greater maturity. In other words, vibrant churches are always thinking about “next steps.” Easter is the perfect time to evaluate and tweak the steps your church offers along that pathway.
Five Ideas For Ministries That Move People Toward Maturity
Movement 1: Meet People Where They Are
- Increasingly, people are unwilling to visit church in person as a first step, so the best outreach ministries meet people where they are.
- This year, my church is not holding an Easter egg hunt on our property. Instead, we’re taking the egg hunt to the people! We’ve equipped our members with everything they need to host fantastic egg hunts in their own neighborhoods, including materials that make it easy to talk about the meaning of Easter and to invite their friends to another event at our church.
Movement 2: Create a Low Barrier of Entry
- As a second step, some people may be willing to visit a church service, but for many, this may still be too large of a step. That’s why we have created low-barrier events that allow people to see the church property in a nonthreatening way and to meet some friendly faces.
- Some of our most successful low-barrier events have been block parties featuring live music, food trucks, lawn games, inflatables, and more!
Movement 3: Invest in Online Ministry
- At this point, inviting someone to a worship gathering may be the appropriate next step. However, you should expect that they will watch your service online before coming in person.
- We have found that most people who visit us on Sunday mornings have already been attending online for a month or more. The livestream truly is the new front door, so all the investments we have made in its quality has paid huge dividends in our overall ministry!
Movement 4: Create Connections on Sunday
- When guests do attend on a Sunday morning, are you ready for them? Were you thinking about them when you created signage in the parking lot? Do you consider their perspective when you write your sermons?
- We prioritize getting guests connected with others within seconds of their arrival (literally). You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, so these first moments are absolutely critical.
Movement 5: Offer Opportunities to go Deeper
- We want to see believers mature to the point that they serve God with their gifts and share the Gospel with others. We have found that this growth happens best in the context of relationships.
- We have five people who will be making first-time professions of faith very soon at our church! Getting them to this point feels like a victory, but the truth is that their journey has just begun. To continue down the pathway of discipleship, all these people will need mentoring and ongoing investment.
Putting this Week’s Newsletter in Action
Does your church have a strategy to move people from where they are to where they need to go via easy and obvious steps? Do you consider outreach and pre-evangelism as part of those steps?
- Many resources on this topic start at what I’ve labeled Movement 4 or 5, but I want to encourage you to think about all the steps that lead up to that moment, especially as Easter presents a great opportunity for outreach!
Go deeper by reading Thom Rainer’s book, Simple Church (Chapter 6), or Andy Stanley’s book, 7 Practices of Effective Ministry (Chapter 11). Perhaps these books would make a good study for your staff or your council?
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