Sometimes I wonder if we are making the most of our opportunities at church. I mean, we go on Sunday morning and smile and ask the people in the row behind us how their week was. We visit a little bit, occasionally checking in on someone that we know is having a hard time. But do we really, really dig in as much as we could with those who have become our family?
So I talked to my kids about finding ways to be more, do more, connect more when we are church. We decided to create a family challenge and see what happened. We are still in the middle of it, but so far the results have been amazing and I wanted to encourage you to make a similar challenge for your family!
In our family we like to play games. We play board games or card games several times a week and we make up games to go with chores and less enjoyable activities. For instance, if we are cleaning up the yard we will make it a race or build a point system and prizes for anyone who gets 10 points. So I decided to tap into that interest of ours and create a challenge for our time at church.
This is a 4 Sunday challenge, then it resets. Each week before church we go over what the goal is for that day.
We each (Mom and Dad included) have to approach one person they have never met before or have been feeling like we should connect with. We talk to them and find out 2-3 things about that person. I gave the kids a list of possible items to ask about to help them so they don’t feel pressured to come up with questions. Here are a few: How far do you live from church? How long have you lived in town? Do you have any pets? Where did you grow up? What do you like to do for lunch after church? What do you do for a living?
We go home and share the information with one another and write the names down on our school board so we can all pray for those people during the week.
If your child is nervous, try reading some Bible stories of bravery from a book like Brave Girls Bible Stories to lift their courage!
Make a connection with at least one of the people that your family member met the week before. So I might approach the person my 16-year-old son met and say, “Hey, Noah said he talked to you last week and he thought you were so interesting. Thanks for talking to him.” Then I would ask a few more questions to learn more about that person. If you aren’t sure what they look like, last week’s person can go introduce you.
Then we share what we learned about those people at home and continue to pray for them.
Reconnect with the person you met on the first Sunday. Follow up is key in building relationships and we want people to know that we value them. I once made a beeline after church to the shy woman I had met 2 weeks before and I could tell it surprised her. We all expect people to just stand around chatting with their friends and not think about us. I asked about how things were going with her job (which was something she shared with me when I met her) and let her know I had been praying for her. Even if we don’t become close, I will keep up with her and made sure to seek her out often.
We continue to pray for them during the week, and now we are getting used to their names because they have been on our dry erase board for 3 weeks!
Read from Heroes and Villians of the Bible to keep up our courage!
Invite someone from the list out to lunch after church. You all choose one of the people on the list and agree to ask if they want to go to lunch with your family (it’s also good to have a backup list in case they can’t). It’s risky to ask people to lunch because they might reject you, but do it anyway! If they can’t go, they know you wanted them there and it blesses them. If you can’t afford to eat out, have a meal ready at home. If your church does a potluck, ask if they will sit with you. If no one can go, we keep asking the next week if it feels appropriate.
Then we erase the names on the board and start over!
By the time the 4 weeks have passed, our family has gotten to know several new people at church and prayed for them for a month. The whole challenge just takes a few minutes out of our Sunday and has had phenomenal results! We have found out about needs that we never would have known, we have made some friends in age brackets that we would normally not be drawn to, we are getting to pray specifically for people and it has drawn our family closer.
We have all loved the challenge so much that we plan to keep it going, maybe altering it after a year and adapt it as a new challenge. I will share that with you when it happens!
I would highly encourage you to do something similar with your family. You will be amazed at how much God can do with just a few minutes of showing someone that you are interested in them!
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Are you joining us on Lisa’s Family Church Challenge? Come share with us on our blog. We want to hear from you how you are connecting with people you don’t yet know in your church community.