In the busyness of planning events and running programs and ministry, I tend to forget the “what’s the next step?” principle too often. I was reminded of this after an event I attended recently.
We all showed up for an outdoor church service in the park. It was a great morning. The sun was shining, birds were chirping, neighbors were passing through the park, ball players were cheering in the distance. We enjoyed some great music and worshiping together. The sermon was very encouraging and uplifting. But there was no next step. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone else, I’m just being reminded of how often I forget about that. It might have been nice to explain a little about the church and what the next thing was that people could take part in.
The “what’s the next step?” principle is something I came across some time ago and strive to make a part of all my planning and running of events. Though I forget about it more than I’d like.
The Next Step principle is that everything we do in the church or through the church should lead people to a next step.
- Sunday Morning Worship Service: What’s the next step if people show up for a Sunday morning service? I would love to see people connect – specifically through joining a small group. Even though we are a small church, we use Connection Cards which invite people to leave their contact information with us. If it is during the off-season, then I at least send them an email as well as a letter welcoming them back. And when we start up our small groups again, I have the information so I can contact them and invite them to join one.
- Sermons: I usually include some Next Steps on the back of the Connection Card. This is usually an invitation to respond to the sermon in some way. It may include the next step of memorizing a verse from the sermon, or a response to God, or even an action to take that week in a practical way.
- Special Events: The Next Step for our Big Days (Fall Chili Cook-off, Easter Eggstravaganza, etc) is to invite people to come to our services again, with the prayer that they would be drawn to our church family and to God through them.
- Small Groups: One Next Step we would love people to take is to step into leadership. As they grow as part of the small group, we want them to see that they don’t need to just continue as participants, but they can step into a ministry and serve there – maybe even into leadership.
- New Believers/ New Attendees: One Next Step is to encourage those who have come to faith in Jesus to attend a Baptism Class and to consider Baptism as an expression of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
All of this means we need to continually think ahead. Where are we hoping to lead people to? What is the next step of growth that we can invite people into?
Enjoy planning your Next Steps.