Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Visitation Outreach (Part Two)

Visitation ministry most often goes wrong by being impersonal. The bigger the church, the bigger the problem, usually. Often ministries stop being ministries and become assembly line programs one step away from the tactics used by political organizations. Once a church has become comfortable sending unknowns to visit unknowns, it’s all over.

One first big step in getting back to being personal and real would be to eliminate all prospect cards and those little registration cards that get passed out on Sundays. Honestly, if no one in a church organization cares enough about a visiting family to meet them and talk with them, to learn their names, find out why they came and maybe trade phone numbers, why would one expect that these families are going to be open and excited about receiving a visit from some representatives of the church a week or two later?

Speaking of visitors cards. Why are those things so painfully detailed? Do we really think we are going to help ourselves by having all this information about someone we don’t know? My wife and I have collected a few of these cards during our visits to the States just to laugh at them. We’ve actually seen cards like this:

Civil Status
_Student _Single _Married _Divorced _Widowed _Remarried _Separated _Engaged

_High School _Some College _Bachelors _Masters _Doctorate

“Ok, Bob. Here’s your prospect card. John and Louise Tucker, divorced, remarried, 3 children, one his one hers and one adopted. She has a Master’s degree. He has some college education, but didn’t finish college, evidently. They both work full time and they are both in their early forties.” Isn’t that putting the family at a disadvantage when meeting people they don’t know? If churches are going to use these cards, they ought not put anything but name, address, phone number and a place for comments. If you want to know more about visitors, get to know them. Don’t survey them.

Eliminating visitors cards can also lead to greater outreach involvement by the congregation. As it is, often times church members think that it isn’t necessary to approach visitors because the visitor cards are there and the “church” will make sure they get a visit and a gospel presentation. Without the prospect-card safety net, there will be more personal involvement… and it will be personal.

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