Ten Tips for Reconnecting

Would you like your church to become a magnet for former members and others who have stopped attending? Here are some suggestions to help you make it a reality.

1. Pray for specific people you know who are not now attending church. Ask God to bless their lives abundantly.

2. Select three friends from that list and identify all the things you used to do with them that you could do again to create a renewed connection.

3. Contact each person as the spirit of God prompts you that the timing is right. Let your initial conversation revolve around how much you enjoy that person’s friendship and that you’re looking for a way to reconnect. Don’t recoil if you experience initial reticence or rejection.

4. Communicate in every way that you are no better than they (we all are standing in the need of grace) and that you and the others at church are diminished because you are not together.

5. Find a way to meet on neutral ground. Go back to your list of things in common and find a way to do them together now or whatever resonates with your friend currently.

6. Let friendship be enough. Ask God to calm your heart and mind about their lack of church attendance. That will happen as Providence provides. You’re not responsible for the timing.

7. Be real with your friend as you reconnect. Admit your struggles with God and other Christians if that is your experience. Presenting yourself as a perfect person will not help you reconnect readily, if at all.

8. Listen to what they tell you about their lives. When appropriate, discover their feelings about family, work, or religious people. Notice where they have relational pain.

9. Apologize for pain that has been caused by church people. Ask them to give a small group of authentic and inclusive friends a chance to redeem the day by meeting with them for fellowship.

10. Advocate for them (especially when they are not in the room) with church people. Let the regular members know how spiritual these inactive members are and how much their friendship means to you and a growing number of others. Ask active members to withhold unfounded judgments of people they really don’t understand or connect with regularly.

At the time this article was written, Paul Richardson was Director for the Center of Creative Ministry and Reconnecting Ministries for the North American Division.

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