Ways to Connect into Church
BEING THE NEW PERSON AT CHURCH IS NEVER EASY, PARTICULARLY IF YOU DON’T KNOW ANYONE THERE.
It’s daunting because here is a group of people; a family of brothers and sisters in Christ, who all have a history together. They have prayed together, laughed together, fought with one another, and been there for each other in the hardest of times. And here you are, the new person who doesn’t have a share in it, but desperately wants to be ‘in’.
It’s not a walk in the park for that established Christian family either, to again lower their defences and allow themselves to be vulnerable with a stranger.
BUT THIS IS WHAT WE ALL NEED.
Being a part of a church is far more than just attending, or being involved regularly; it’s about being a part of a family. Family is raw, exciting, terrifying, and beautiful all at the same time.
As a church, we are passionate about getting new people connected into church family life. This is why we host regular New People Nights and invite you to Life Groups whenever we get a chance. We also know that this is a two-way street; if you’re the new person, then there is some responsibility on you to make the effort to connect well.
HERE ARE FIVE INDISPENSABLE WAYS TO CONNECT TO YOUR CHURCH FAMILY (WHETHER THAT IS LCC OR ANOTHER CHURCH):
1. BE REGULAR ON SUNDAY
This might not sound like a big deal, but regular attendance is one of the most underrated ways of being and feeling connected to a church family. And by regular, I mean every week. According to the McCrindle research group, around 8% of Australians attend church regularly, with the addendum that regular equals at least once per month. If you are only attending church once per month, it will be very difficult for those important church relationships to go beyond the shallow waters of, “oh and what have you been up to.”
Now we need to be realistic here. Life is busy, and there is an increasingly long line of people and things demanding our attention. There are family occasions, kids AFL and everything in between. Trust me, I get it. We should prioritise time with loved ones, and the last thing anybody needs is any kind of legalism. But if you want to connect with your church, you are shooting yourself in the foot by not prioritising the gathering of the saints.
2. JOIN A LIFE GROUP
This is a bit of a no brainer—I don’t think anybody could argue that participation in a Life Group (or Bible study or DNA or Connect Group or whatever you want to call it) could inhibit your level of connection. But unfortunately for a lot of churches, these smaller gatherings are often among some of the least attended programs that a church runs.
In these groups the relationships have no choice but to go deeper. When we share a meal with someone in their home, we are participating in something beautiful and wonderful, that god has set apart for us to enjoy. Join a life group, and watch those relationships and connections flourish.
A little under a year ago I helped at our church working bee. At that point, my family and I had been at the church for a bit more than eighteen months and felt fairly connected. But during that working bee, that connection was well and truly accelerated. There was something about working side by side with friends; sweating together, demolishing things together and setting off old fire extinguishers together that created a greater bond than any amount of get-to-know-you nights could have done.
Now I know what you’re thinking, you’re just saying that to get more people to serve. And you would be right! At LCC we love getting people to serve—not for our sake but for theirs. We want everyone who walks through our doors to have those working bee-type moments with others. We don’t need more people to serve, in fact at the time of writing this, we have more people serving at our church than we know what to do with. It’s a great problem to have. Serve for your sake!
4. BECOME A GOSPEL PARTNER
At LCC we call it gospel partnership (you might’ve heard it be called Church Membership) because of Paul’s words to the Philippian church, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” (Phil 1:3-5).
Essentially Gospel Partnership is about becoming engrained not only into the culture of the church, but also the theological vision and direction of the church. It is about aligning oneself with the teaching, preaching of the church, and the missional direction of the church. We think it is valuable so as to not cause division over unnecessary issues.
5. HELP OTHERS GET CONNECTED
On about the third Sunday that we visited LCC, it came to that usual five minute greeting break that church’s often will have. I didn’t know the people in front of me, and I hadn’t seen them yet at church. After a couple of minutes (and assuming that they were new), I extended my hand and said, “Welcome to LCC!” Embarrassed, the girl in front of me gingerly shook my hand and told me that she had been at the church for around twelve years. After a few hearty laughs, we launched into a lengthy discussion about the church, and this little introduction has flourished into a wonderful friendship between my family and hers.
Extending a hand and saying g’day to people (rather than waiting for them come to you) could be the difference between you having a great experience of getting connected into the church or not.
Remember: patience is the key. You probably aren’t going to have ten new BFF’s after your second week at the church; in fact it could easily take twelve months before you feel like you are connected. But this is why it is called family and not just friendship.