If someone turns up to church to kick the wheels and look for evidence of an oil leak under the bonnet, that’s a great thing. It’s a chance to meet someone new, and to introduce them to your regular Christian family.
That’s why it’s this introduction is worth some thought, and why I’ve written these two blog posts. (See part i.)
This second post is about the second step of helping someone who gives you ministry a ‘test-drive’. In three words: keep your promises.
I well remember one dealer’s treatment of me as a car buyer. The first meetings were great: I could try out the car, get information, go and check with my wife, chase up finance without pressure. I was content – so I ordered.
Then the relationship ended. If I called, ‘my’ salesman was never available. After too long a delay I found out that the car I signed for wasn’t actually available any more (‘so sorry’), nor was there a similar one to be found. Of course, for a bit extra I could swap to buy something else …
Disappointed hardly captures my assessment of what happened after I paid the deposit. They promised, they did not keep their promise.
If we promise to contact someone new to church, we should make that visit. When we say there’s information about groups to join, do what’s required to give them the information.
Be aware also of implicit promises. Our church uses communication cards each week. If a first time visitor gives an email or postal address, I think it’s especially important to follow-up. If I asked for the address, it’s fair to expect that I’m promising some kind of contact.
Finally, because we seek to keep our word, we will also be careful to make sensible promises. I’d love for families with three teenaged children to join us, but I cannot promise a youth group with dozens of peers for them. As I’m in a smallish church, it would be tempting to drop hints (‘we love teenagers’), but then have to retract those hints once the family sees what resources we have.