A little over a month ago I began to think about what our church is doing well that is generating momentum. My question led me to investigate and explore the intangible values that we are embracing as a church. I wanted to know what we unknowingly are doing that people are connecting with.
As I looked at processes and listen to first time guests responses and read their comments I began to see an emerging pattern. The more I narrowed my list down, the more these three qualities stood out in the working DNA of our small, but growing church.
“I felt so welcomed.”
Almost every visitor, and regular that told me about their first experience used those words, “I felt so welcomed.” Then a good percentage of the people would follow that up with, “No one judged me.”
I wanted to drill these statements down to a value and then take that value and turn it into an action to repeat. What I saw was that we were creating, or had created, a culture of acceptance.
I guess we talked about it enough, taught about it enough, and modeled it enough that our people had naturally began to make this a part of their own DNA. When someone,who wasn’t like them—whether they were of a different color, class, or context—our people have been accepting them.
“They are always asking me to take my next step.”
That’s exactly what we do every week. We challenge people.
We accept them as they are and then challenge them that God doesn’t want to leave them the same.
We challenge people by helping them recognize where they are and how applying the truth of scripture can take them further on their faith journey.
There is a reason why we can challenge people and they not feel judged. First because we accept them and secondly because of the last thing people tell us.
I felt good about myself when I left.
The reason people leave with a positive feeling is because they were not just accepted but they were additionally encouraged.
A challenge without encouragement is like running a race without a crowd. It’s harder and easier to give up. Whenever we encourage one another, we are lending them some of our courage.
One of the best ways to encourage someone is to share your story of how you took your next step and overcame that same challenge.
A DNA to Cultivate
This is what we told our Westside Leaders here in Port Elizabeth. We gave them the challenge to:
Accept people because we were accepted by Jesus.
Challenge people to take their next step.
Encourage people by sharing our story and acknowledging their strengths.
It’s not cliche for me to say this, but I believe if we are truly accepting people as they are, challenging them to grow, and encouraging them along the way, we will be able to influence more people.
Then we can lead them to accept others, challenge them, and encourage them to influence others the same way they were influenced.
I believe this could work within any organization, not just a church or non profit. I believe it could work for any context. It lets people know you believe in them and that you are willing to go with them and not just point the way.
How can this work in your context?
For those who don’t like acronyms I want to apologize. I am still, and will probably always be, one who likes to make things memorable. So if it rhymes or if it can spell a word, I will use it unashamedly—knowing it isn’t cool.