What does it take to reach out into the world and see people come to Christ? What does it take to see a good number at your first worship service as a church planter?
Steve Pike, former head of church multiplication for the Assemblies of God, discovered something a number of years ago. He found that from a sociological perspective you need to have a certain number of people in the overall orbit of the church in order to see people connect to your congregation. The reasoning behind this is rather straight forward: most people are led to Christ by someone they know. So if people are going to come to Christ they need to be in relationship with people. If they are going to connect to your church there has to be some connection to your congregation. These connections need to be in four areas:
- Awareness of your church
- Networking: you know people's names and they know you know their names.
- Relationship: you know their story.
- Evangelism: they know you believe in Jesus and that you want them to know Jesus.
In his article "The Start-Up Funnel" Pike lays out the scope of this kind of connecting by giving this example:
"You are leading a church that currently has 100 attendees in a town of 10,000. Demographic studies indicate at least 5,000 people in your community are not currently part of a church. Your leadership team decides that over the next year they will aspire to lead 1 percent of the unchurched in your town to faith in Christ. This means the evangelism circle target number will be 50 (1 percent of 5,000). Multiply that number by 2. This will give the relationship circle target number of 100. Multiply that number by 3. This will give the networking number of 300. Multiply that number by 10. This will give the awareness number of 3,000. Plan activities in each circle that will result in achieving the target numbers in that circle. What are the activities or tools to make 3,000 people who are not currently attending any church aware of your church in a positive way? What might you do to gather the names of 300 people in your community (who have been made aware of you through your awareness activities) and begin to systematically pray for them? What relational activities can you engage in that will result in the formation of 100 new relationships? What activities can you provide that will help 50 of the 100 to begin to follow Christ?"
Pike points out that all of this happens in the context of prayer and reliance on God, but still we need to take our role seriously even as God does his work. Reflecting on Pike's idea may call us as congregations and church planters to think more systematically and to plan more expansively for reaching out than we previously have.
So do you find Pike's ideas helpful? What would change in your outreach efforts if you followed his ideas of the funnel?