Posted on January 4, 2018 8:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
All of us know that Sunday School attendance can go down a little in the cold-weather months.  Steve Parr is a Sunday School expert from the state of Georgia.  Brother Parr offers some great advice from his book, Sunday School that Really Responds.  Here are five suggestions for responding to those seasons of slump in attendance:

1. Take the seasons into consideration.  Do not think it unusual to occasionally go through seasonal slumps. You may be doing many things correctly and still be affected by the various seasons. Sunday school attendance tends to go through a cycle each year.  A holiday weekend in November followed by two holiday weekends in December will ordinarily bring a seasonal slump.  Although you have a couple of great Sundays, the holiday weekends can pull the average attendance for the month down significantly.  Once the children have their spring breaks and your members begin their summer vacations, the attendance may tend to slump again. What do you do when you encounter these seasonal slumps?

2. Focus on the things that you can control.  Should we cancel the holidays?  Certainly not! Holidays are great for celebration, for family gatherings, and for times of respite between the ordinary routines of life.  No one should be shamed for taking time to be with family or to take time away to refresh and relax.  Remember during those seasons to focus on the things that you have control of.  Consider the following: Do you have control of whether you participate in or provide training?  Do you have control over whether you contact and minister to those on your Sunday school roll?  Do you have control over whether you participate in outreach?  Be faithful to invest in those things that you do have control over which in turn influence the attendance.

3. Don't complain to the faithful about the unfaithful.  Understanding seasonal patterns can serve to minimize frustration when attendance falls off.  Consider these public statements from various Sunday school leaders or pastors: "I wish our members were more committed."  "People would be here if they loved Jesus more!"  "I don't know where everyone is today."  "Our attendance is horrible today."  These statements may or may not be true.  The problem is that you are complaining to the wrong people. It is not the fault of the people who are present that there are people who are absent.  I once saw a bumper sticker that said, "The beatings will continue until morale improves!"  You will find that volunteers (and people who attend church do so voluntarily) respond better to being challenged than being criticized.

4. Extend a challenge to your leaders and members.  Perhaps you are unsure if the slump that you are in is the result of a seasonal affect or perhaps some deeper issue.  In any case you should never be shy about challenging your members.  Challenge them to be faithful to worship, Bible study, and personal growth.  Challenge them to be faithful to service to the body of Christ, to be a faithful witness to those that do not know Christ, and to be faithful to minister to members of the church and community who are hurting.  The body of Christ will be strengthened, and attendance will grow strong if the members are faithful to these tasks.

5. Ramp up the contacts.  What is a contact?  It is an intentional communication on behalf of a Sunday school class or a church that takes place during the week to minister to a member, encourage an absentee, or to invite someone to attend.  Contacts are always important, but they become critical to minimize the effects of seasonal slumps.
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors First Baptist, So. Lebanon.
Posted on January 2, 2018 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
As we conclude 2017, I’m reminded of a quote I heard, “An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in.  A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.”  Well, as we conclude 2017, I’m certainly an optimist about Sunday School.
I’m optimistic that Sunday School still works!  In our own church we have seen about 8 % attendance growth in our Sunday School.  We have also seen that growth translate into increased giving, increased worship attendance and more and stronger disciples of Jesus Christ.  As the Sunday School goes, so goes the church.  I still believe that and see the evidence to back it up.
I’m optimistic that starting new classes is how the Sunday School grows.  We have added classes in our own church in 2017, and the results are encouraging.  We started a new preschool class and a new mixed adult class for young adults.  These classes have not yet reached their potential, but there are people attending them that have never attended before and they are growing in the right direction.  
I’m optimistic about the way Sunday School classes assimilate new people into our church culture.  I know that when new people enroll in a class that they will be loved on, ministered to and taught God’s Word.  When they attend Sunday School, they are much more likely to have a quiet time, serve in a ministry, share their faith and tithe their income.  In addition, they are much more likely to stay active in the church for years to come.
I’m optimistic about how our current classes are developing new church leaders for the future.  As God’s Word is taught, it has transforming power.  Our thinking and our behavior is changed as we apply what the teacher brings to our hearts each Sunday.  The real-world problems people are facing are being connected to the powerful answers found in holy Scripture.  It’s life changing!  These new disciples can then, in turn, lead other disciples to maturity in Christ, creating a leadership base for our church to continue doing the Great Commission.
I’m optimistic that those who attend our Sunday School are going to be more excited about being a part our church.  As people are engaged in a ministering Sunday School class, they see how God can use them to impact others.  They see themselves involved in a greater mission and making a significant contribution.  They understand their value in the greater work of God’s kingdom.

I’m optimistic that our Sunday School is preparing the next generation for the work of God.  As our children and teens are being discipled in Sunday School, they are growing in knowledge and grace.  They will be able to face the challenges of living in a world that is becoming more opposed to Christianity.  They are being equipped to be true defenders of the faith and on how to live out the principles of the Word of God.  In truth, we are building for the church of tomorrow.
One man said, “I love when they drop the ball in Times Square. It's a nice reminder of what I did all year.”  I think I can honestly say that our Sunday School leaders have not dropped the ball in 2017.  Because of the steady, diligent effort of our teachers, we have something wonderful to build upon for 2018.  I can hardly wait to see what God will do.
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors First Baptist, So. Lebanon, Oh. 
Posted on January 2, 2018 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
If this Baptist association of churches was a Winter Olympic event, it would be bobsledding. The runners count to get in sync, run flat out, and jump in together. They cross a point in which an electronic eye starts a timer. Most of the other Olympic events start from a standstill.
Like bobsledding athletes, our pastors enter the New Year on the move!
Two years ago, even in the interview process, I heard how this association needed to work through pastors to help them become sending and fully missional churches. And we are now beginning a new day of associational missions to fulfill that challenge.

The 2018 Winter Olympics are scheduled February 9-25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. During January and February, world-class athletes will gather to practice and compete. And during January and February here in the Cincinnati Area, CABA is launching new ways to help pastors address lostness. In the last edition of Focus, we listed nearly 30 people that are active in serving CABA churches. What a joy to see the fruit of their godly labor begin to grow!
CABA’s bobsled is on the rails and we’re moving. Full-time, bivo, church planters alike. We’re not starting from a standstill, but entering the race against lostness at a good clip. The clock is ticking! Jesus promised to return and we don’t know the hour. The Lord has used the past to ready us for this day. This time.
And we’re off – helping our pastors address lostness through coaching, networking, and planting churches. Together.
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership (DOM) for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association (CABA).
Posted on December 15, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
Jesus taught that the greatest leaders have the mind-set of a servant.  Probably the most difficult part of servant-leadership is when people treat you like a servant.  One football coach bemoaned the way people treated him by saying, “It’s like the fans either put you in the penthouse or the outhouse.”  A servant leader must know how to deal with both treatments.  It’s Jesus’ “new way” of leading in His kingdom and as Sunday School/small group leaders, it goes with the territory.
A servant-leader is open to scrutiny and criticism.  I can remember serving in a West Texas church while I was in college.  The youngest active members were a couple in their forties and most of the members were well into their retirement years.  I became a part-time staff member with my wife and two boys of four and two-years-old.  Suffice it to say, they hadn't had preschoolers in their church for many decades.  Our boys were pretty well behaved, but sometimes the two-year-old acted like he was, well, two!  One of the members determined that I needed to be aware of what people were saying about our parenting.  Apparently, it even came up in a Wednesday night business meeting!  It never occurred to any of them that most churches have nurseries for preschoolers that age.  As the lady brought her critique, I thanked her and let her know we would try to do better.  In a different church, I was once soundly rebuked for holding out a note too long while I was leading the song service.  Good times!
I have discovered along the way, that thin-skinned leaders don’t last very long in ministry.  That’s true for pastors, but it is also true of volunteers in ministry.  For some reason, people who would never criticize a co-worker in the workplace, don’t hesitate to let a Sunday School worker know that her services are not up to standard.  There are those who know better than to rant on Facebook about the boss at work, yet, they won’t hesitate to blast a leader in the church.  It’s just a “gift” that some folks seem to have!  We know it shouldn't be that way.  We know that we are serving Jesus by serving the people.  But, when it happens to you, it is really easy to want to bail out altogether.  It will certainly test your resolve to be a servant-leader in His kingdom.
Surprisingly, praise can also be a snare to a servant-leader.  A servant doesn't want to take credit for what the master provided and enabled him to do.  In ministry, we want all the glory to go to the Lord.  A great church, however, is filled with people who will encourage you.  People need to be built up.  After all, the Bible does tell us to encourage one another daily!  But, how do we handle praise without letting it metastasize into destructive pride?  Servant-leaders learn to express gratitude, but also, to deflect praise to God and others.  
Our successes in life can easily be traced to what God and others have done for us.  A smart football coach takes the blame for the failures of the team and gives his players the credit for every win.  Such a servant’s attitude builds the morale of the team and makes way for even more victories.  If our small group grows and reaches new people, it is because God used our efforts and others helped to make it happen.  The same can be seen in ministry.  If the pastor takes credit for growing attendance and increases in baptisms, the congregation will quickly react to his pride and the Holy Spirit will be quenched.  The same happens in other areas of ministry.
The best leaders are great servants.  The world will never understand such a concept, but it is nevertheless true.  Servant-leaders serve without concern over who gets credit as long as God gets the glory.
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors First Baptist, So. Lebanon, Oh.
Posted on December 8, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
The story goes that a man was touring in the Middle East when he drove by a man who was driving a group of sheep into a building.  The man was swinging a large stick and shouting at the animals.  The tourist had to pull over and find out what was going on.  The man came over to the fence and the conversation began.  The tourist said, “I’ve always heard that shepherds in this part of the country led their herds with great love and gentleness, but I noticed you were not treating the sheep in that way at all.”  The man replied, “Oh, I’m not a shepherd.  I’m a butcher.”

Jesus taught and modeled a “new way” of leading people in the kingdom of God.  He told His disciples that they would need to learn to lead people with the attitude of a servant.  As spiritual shepherds, seeking to make disciples of Christ, we cannot approach the task as CEOs, lording our leadership over others.  Jesus expects us to accept the responsibility of leadership without adopting the attitude of the world.  That was, and still is, a new way of looking at it, even though He spoke those words 2,000 years ago.  So how do we lead like servants?
I think that first, a servant-leader must deal with the ego problem.  Servants are not self-centered.  They are not focused on how to move up the ladder, but how to help others up the ladder.  As we lead and disciple others, we must discover how to crucify our self-centeredness.  When I have the attitude that my class or church is pretty lucky to have a guy like me, I’m setting myself up for failure, and when the leader fails, he never fails in a vacuum.  
A servant-leader focuses on the success of others.  That is a motivational issue.  We who are parents, delight in the success of our children.  We are motivated to help them get ahead in life.  A great school teacher who has students who are doing poorly doesn’t look for ways to blame the parents or the students.  She is motivated to look for ways to change and improve the way she teaches to assure her students’ success.  As you lead your class, your motive is to make them successful in God’s eyes and that shapes everything you do as a teacher and discipler.

A servant-leader anticipates the needs of others.  A good preschool teacher is alert to the toys in her room.  Are they age-appropriate?  Are there enough toys for everyone in the class?  Are they clean and sanitized?  She knows every toy will likely end up in a child’s mouth and she has anticipated the needs of the children in her care.  The teacher will be sure the cribs have clean linens and anticipate the need for diapers, wipes and other items.  Likewise, an adult teacher will anticipate the needs of others by ordering enough literature to include guests.  He will be sure someone is responsible for having a few extra chairs available for those who arrive late.  The adult or student teacher will have enrollment cards and materials available for witnessing and follow-up with visitors.  Such anticipation makes a teacher an exceptional leader.

Jesus was a master at using almost shocking teaching statements that challenged the status quo.  When He taught His disciples that the best leaders were those that served others, He certainly had their attention and confronted the contemporary wisdom of the day.  Unfortunately, self-serving leaders are still quite prevalent today.  In the words of Mark 10:43, “…it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.”
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors First Baptist, So. Lebanon, Oh.
Posted on December 1, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
I saw a funny church cartoon once that had a tall man and a shorter man walking down the church hallway.  The tall man’s caption read, “Just once I’d like to see this church elect deacons by height!”  Obviously, church leaders are not elected by height or any other physical appearance for that matter.  Church leaders are not selected based on income or notoriety or any of the things we often associate with leaders in the world.  Jesus taught us that His kingdom leaders should have a servant’s heart, not an attitude of superiority.  That being the case, how do church leaders influence others to follow their leadership?  Here are a few more thoughts to consider.
Church leaders influence through relationships.  I’ve made a discovery in ministry—enlisting people to serve from the pulpit is pretty much a waste of time.  Announcing a need for more ministry workers during announcement time just doesn't work.  People need a personal contact to see the need, see who they are working with and catch the vision.  They have questions that cannot be answered from the pulpit, anyway.  They need a face-to-face conversation.  People want to feel valued as a part of a ministry team and how we enlist them is critical.  In addition, they continue to serve as they sense a comradery and connection with the leader.  To deepen those relationships, we need to learn what inspires a person and what burdens him.  We need to pursue a little deeper relationship with the people we lead.
It is important for us to value people over rules.  As a church grows larger, good structure and effective systems are critical.  The challenge to keep everyone going the same direction is real—Christians tend to get sidetracked easily.  At the end of the day, the church is still in the people business.  Years ago, my wife and I attended a big minister’s conference in a huge church.  The church provided childcare, so we dropped off our two preschool boys.  I politely asked if they could stay together since they were quite close in age and we knew that it would be best for them and the workers.  I was promptly told that they had to be separated and if I didn’t like it, I would have to take it up with the senior pastor of the church.  I tried to explain the reasons for my request, but the rule had to stand.  I think we were offended more by the attitude of the leader than the rule itself.  If I had been a prospect for that church, I would have never returned.  
People are inclined to follow leaders of character and competency.  In Psalm 33 worshipers are told to praise God from an upright heart and they are told to play skillfully.  Character and competency are both necessary when leading worship.  The same can be said of other areas of ministry.  Consider the church leaders who have greatly influenced your life.  These key influencers had character, but they also had people skills, communication skills and an understanding of the Bible.  This is why church leaders need to become lifelong learners.  We need to continue to grow—even in those areas we feel we are most competent.  It is why teachers attend teaching conferences.  It is why schools and hospitals have in-service training days.  A sharp ax can chop more wood than a dull one.  When the leader is not skilled at what she does, it creates tension and frustration, but if she lacks character, it is even worse.
Christians leadership is quite different than the world’s style of leadership.  Sure, there are concepts that can apply to a church or ministry as well as a business, but Jesus clearly instructed us that His kingdom is led differently than the world’s.  In fact, we might be better off to take our organizational charts and turn them upside down!
Dave Frasure is CABA's Leadership Catalyst and pastors First Baptist So. Lebanon, Oh.
Posted on November 28, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
One day Jesus was dealing with a couple of ambitious disciples who wanted to be at the top of the leadership ladder.  They boldly requested special positions in His kingdom.  The other disciples were no displeased as they watched to see how Jesus would respond to such a request.  Jesus’ response was inspired, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45 NKJV)
Jesus established an important fact in His statement about kingdom leadership.  Church leadership is much different than the leadership of the world.  Instead of “lording” our leadership over others, we are to be servant leaders.  A bossy, harsh church leader is a contradiction of terms.  In the 1990’s movie, The Preacher’s Wife, a domineering choir director decided to strongarm the church choir.  As a result, she ended up losing most of the choir members.  She came to the preacher to complain about the lack of commitment on the part of the people she was trying to lead.  Of course, the real problem was the style of leadership she was using.  She learned the hard way that church leadership is not the same as the world’s style of leadership.
Church leaders reward those who follow them in the form of gratitude and encouragement.  I’m sometimes overwhelmed with the fact that I am required by God’s Word to encourage others (Hebrews 10:24-25).  I love to encourage others.  It is part of my spiritual gift of exhortation.  But how do you give encouragement to hundreds of people in a church on an individual basis?  I know it is a small thing, but to me a thoughtful, handwritten birthday card is one way I can encourage each person in our church at least once a year.  It is a simple way for a church leader to show gratitude and encouragement for those he or she leads.
I have found that casting a compelling vision is another way to lead people in a church setting.  I have pastored smaller churches in my ministry and I have faced the dilemma of inviting people to a church that did not yet have a strong children’s or youth program.  A smaller church cannot afford a youth or children’s minister.  It is hard to convince a parent to bring their kids to a church that cannot possibly provide all the bells and whistles of a larger, next-generation ministry.  I did find, however, that parents would respond to a vision for a strong ministry to their children.  They often decided to become members of that smaller church, motivated by the desire to be on the ground floor of building an exciting new ministry.
Church leaders can also motivate people through a sense of community.  That is often why people will say, “I like a smaller church.”  If we obey the Great Commission, however, there is a good chance the church will grow larger. 
As a church gets larger, there is a danger of becoming detached and impersonal.  That’s way a growing church must also “grow smaller” through a strong small-group or Sunday School ministry.  It’s where relationships are born.
There are no church bosses or CEOs.  Jesus is the only head of the church.  Pastors, deacons and other church leaders serve at His command and as we serve, we serve as servants—first to Him, and then to others.  It is an attitude that must go along with the authority of a church leader.
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon, Oh.
Posted on November 24, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
One core value of our church's Sunday School ministry is reaching lost people.  Sometimes Sunday School teachers and classes can lose sight of this foundational principle.  It is easier to focus on member care, fellowship and teaching, and neglect reaching new people.  Some have said, “You worry about how deep your ministry is and God will take care of its breadth.”  That might get a few “amens” at a conference, but it really isn’t biblical or practical.  We cannot do the Great Commission without trying to reach new people.  In fact, we really aren’t loving our neighbor, if we neglect to invite them to receive Christ and become part of His kingdom.  Here are four fundamental reasons to keep outreach as a top priority of our Sunday School.

1. God commands it in His Word.  That should be enough motivation for any Christian. The Great Commission is found in Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus' final command before He left earth included reaching people with the Gospel message. These "marching orders" are repeated in the other three gospels and in the book of Acts. The New Testament Church took the Great Commission very seriously and thus, evangelism became the priority mission of the church.

2. People cannot be discipled until they are first reached.  Discipleship is a function of Sunday School, but it must not become the mission of the Sunday School.  Christians need to grow deeper in the Lord, but have you ever asked yourself why?  What is the purpose of discipleship if it is not, at least in part, to equip believers to obey the Great Commission?  If a Christian is growing "deeper," yet with no real concern about the eternal destiny of the unreached people of the community and the world, is he or she really any closer to Jesus?  The closer we are to Him, the more obvious is our love for the lost.

3. It creates a healthy church focus.  When a local church begins to put too much focus on politics, or music style, or the building, or social reform, reaching people becomes a very casual activity.  Besides that, who wants to bring a lost neighbor to class, only to have the teacher blast anyone with a different political view or another viewpoint on gun control?  Certainly, Christians are to be "salt and light" and we need to be involved as patriots and engaged in public reform that aligns itself with Scripture.  Yet, to make any of these things the primary focus of the church will create an unhealthy environment with very limited evangelistic potential.  People need the Lord no matter their political stripes.  We see the Apostle Paul with an incredible burden for lost people in Romans 9:1-3.  Where is the Bible verse that shows the early church involved in excluding people because they are of another political party?  I’m pretty sure it isn’t there.

4. It is fulfilling for God's people.  Any church worth the bricks it is built with rejoices to see lost people come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  The salvation of souls is something only God can do, and when a church family sees people coming to Christ, it is evidence of God's work in their midst.  The Christians in such a congregation are encouraged and thrilled as new believers are added to the church.  Folks can’t wait to attend a church where people are being saved routinely.

I’d like to challenge each Sunday School leader to develop a prayer list of lost people that can be reached through the ministry of your class.  Maybe you could have a wall covered with post-it notes that have the first names of people the class is seeking to reach.  Let’s make it a true priority to contact these people, giving an invitation to attend your class and know your Savior.
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors First Baptist So. Lebanon, Oh.
Posted on November 13, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
In October of this year we had the privilege of having LIfeWay Sunday School Consultant, Allan Taylor in our state.  Brother Taylor inspired and challenged us to take Sunday School back to its evangelistic roots and to use it as a primary tool to minister to people and disciple them in Christ.  The workshop was like taking a drink from a fire hydrant, but let me share a few big takeaways.

1. Sunday School works if we work it.  Far too many churches have their Sunday School on autopilot.  No one is leading the effort to start new classes, organize ministry, invite new people or enlist and train new workers.  Teachers too often come under-prepared and unenthusiastic about putting forth the effort to reach new people.  Without a willingness to work the Sunday School, its impact weakens, and it becomes ineffective.  The need is for leadership.

2. Sunday School is an effective strategy for church growth.  Growing churches have learned that growing the Sunday School will bring growth to other key areas of the church.  When the Sunday School grows, baptisms increase, giving increases and more people are involved in the worship service.  Churches can be very busy without going anywhere, but a growing Sunday School still brings the results we all pray for, if we use it as a deliberate strategy to reach and disciple people.

3. Starting new classes is essential.  Taylor outlined several ways to start new classes.  It seems we fear the concept of “splitting the class,” but churches are more open to other methods.  Sometimes a new member’s or pastor’s class can be developed into a new class.  A class may be started relationally by enlisting a teacher and her closest friends to be on mission through the Sunday School.  Some people can become trailblazers by seeing a need for a certain kind of class.  With a fist full of prospects, they seek to start a class where one never existed before.  Brother Taylor also spoke to starting new units based on a special topic or felt need, that could then be easily transitioned into a disciple-making class.

4. Sunday School classes must focus on making disciples who can make disciples.  Taylor offered several biblical disciplines of a real disciple of Christ and challenged us to deny our self-centeredness, stay in the Word and obey the Great Commission.  

5. Sunday School must become a leadership pipeline for the church.  New leaders must constantly be developed in a growing church.  As we enlist new leaders for ministries, we look to those growing, committed people who are already active in the Sunday School.  In fact, as we organize leaders within the class to do member care and evangelism, we are preparing leaders who may serve in other areas of the church.  Taylor insisted that each adult class needed an apprentice teacher who would one day take over the class or start a new one.

6. The Sunday School must be mobilized for the mission.  The Sunday School can put more people to work doing ministry than any other ministry in the church.  We generally want trained, “professional” pastors to preach the Word and provide the overall leadership of the church, but Sunday School is designed to be the ministry of the people.  It is God’s “stimulus plan” for pastors to equip the people so they can also do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12).

A growing, vital Sunday School translates into a healthy, mission-focused church.  It doesn’t just help the church to grow, it helps the church to boldly grow!
Dave Frasure is CABA's Leadership Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon, Oh.
Posted on November 2, 2017 10:00 AM by Josh Carter
Categories: Evangelism
Many churches do outreach events each Fall. If your community is like mine, Trunk-or-Treats and Harvest Festivals seemed to abound this year. But if your church is like mine, two things are equally true: 1) You don’t do these type of community events just because you like to. You do them with the hopes of engaging people with the gospel and seeing people come be a part of your church family. 2) Following up with guests from these types of events can be difficult at best. That being said, here are five ways you can see better results from your Fall outreach and other community events.

1) Be Intentionally Evangelistic. A lot of times we think we need to go soft on the gospel to attract people to our church. We might not even say this out loud, but we let our fear of offending people sway what we do at these type of events. In truth, I’d say this actually has the opposite effect of what we might be hoping to accomplish. These people have come to your church property. In general, they are expecting people to talk to them about faith and church related things. What happens when we aren’t direct is that they are constantly on guard about who is going to “hit them over the head” with some Christian ninja sneak attack. Being forward helps them put people at ease and opens up conversations throughout the night. We did this by stopping all games and activities each hour and doing a short welcome and gospel presentation from a central location. This went incredibly smooth and most people seemed to really enjoy the friendly welcome.

2) Invite Them Immediately. During the event we had several trunks that promoted other upcoming events going on at the church. As we handed out candy at these trunks we also handed out invitations to the families. Doing this gave us opportunity to let them know we were serious about continuing to minister to their families. An event can come off as a gimmick if you don’t show the families that you have a plan to continue to care for them.
3) Follow-Up Makes A Big Difference. Here is where most of us fail. The community event is over and we are off to the next thing on our calendar. If you do this, you are missing one of the greatest opportunities your church has to personally connect to the community. Here is how we did it: First, we registered almost everyone who came. Registration was required in order to have tickets for the free food we were providing. Each ticket was for a different food item. Not everyone registered, but a majority did. Second, we scanned the registration forms and sent them to a trusted data-entry company. That sounds like big bucks, it’s not! In fact, it might have been the best $20 we spent all year! We used  Invensis Global Outsourcing Services.  They compiled all our scanned contact information into a simple excel document within 48 hours. I was easily able to then forward the document on to church members who called the families, thanked them for coming, invited them to church, and asked how we could be praying for them. Families were blown away that we were thanking them for coming.
4) Follow-Up Again. Can this one really be overstated? In addition to phone calls, we also send out a “thank you” email. In the email we included a link to a short survey that asked about what we could do better, if we could add them to our emailing list, and how likely their family was to come to our church in the next few months. We received great advice and a lot of really positive feedback. In every follow-up we have asked if the family already has a church home. If the family responds that they do we then remove them from the next layer of contact. For those that don’t have a church home, we plan to send postcards in several weeks to advertise our Christmas sermon series and Christmas events. None of these ideas cost a lot or take a lot of man-power, but they do take intentional planning.
5) Be ready for guests. Over the next few weeks you will likely notice an increased number of guest visit your church. If you are not ready for them, they will leave as quickly as they came. Here is an article by Lifeway on how you can be ready: 7 Do’s and Don’ts of Welcoming Guest to Your Congregation.
None of these things are rocket-science. If they were I wouldn’t be able to do them. They also don’t cost very much and they don’t take very much time. Any church of any size ought to be able to put some if not all of these ideas into practice. As you do, pray that God would use your efforts to draw people to your church, to reach people with His gospel, and to build up His body.
Josh Carter is CABA's Leadership Catalyst and pastors Clough Pike Baptist in Cincinnati.