This past weekend—Saturday and Sunday evening—was our annual Christmas musical at Lancaster Baptist Church. The amount of work put into these projections is staggering—not just in the thousands of hours given by the choir, orchestra, and drama teams, but also the thousands of invitations given out all across our community in the weeks preceding the musical.
I think our church often enters this weekend a little exhausted. Yet, the exhaustion gives way to joy for all of us as we see people respond to the preached gospel message. It was our joy to witness this in every service this weekend, and we praise the Lord for it.
The tendency after such an outpouring of service is to breathe a long sigh of relief on Monday morning, thank God for those who were saved, and kick back into neutral for a few weeks.
But what about those who came on Sunday and did not get saved? And what about those who just trusted Christ and need direction for their spiritual growth? And what about those who committed to come but didn’t?
In our ministry, we have worked to cultivate a passion for something more than high attendance at an outreach event. We really believe that personal follow up is essential to obeying the Great Commission.
So what does effective follow up look like after an event like this? Here are seven tips:
- Strategically assign visits. Every Monday morning, including after large outreach weekends, our soulwinning director collects all the guest cards from Sunday and assigns them to adult class leaders, staff, and faithful soulwinners based on who would be a good continued connection for that person. For instance, if the guest appears to be a single mother, she is assigned to a single ladies class teacher. If it is a young married couple, they are assigned to someone in a young couples class. This streamlines follow up in that it helps someone get quickly plugged into a class or connection group. (Of course, if you have personal guests, whether or not they attended, definitely follow up on them personally.)
- Have a clear objective for each visit. The number one rule of soulwinning is to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Often a visit will go in a direction you couldn’t have anticipated, so it’s important to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. But it is good to approach each visit with an objective. Is this someone who was saved at church? Bring a baptism brochure, and go prepared to explain baptism. Is this someone who marked on their guest card that they wanted more information about children’s ministries? Bring candy for their kids. Always go prepared to share the gospel.
- Bring a gift. Our church provides a gift for soulwinners visiting first-time guest visits. Sometimes it is a mug with our church name on it and a small bag of coffee grounds. Sometimes a small book or a music CD. It does help to get a conversation going and often opens doors.
- Go with a partner. There are many good reasons for making visits with a partner, including accountability and having someone there to pray and help with distractions. I think the greatest reason, however, is that by taking a partner, you get to train someone else. Ask a younger Christian or less experienced soulwinner to go with you as you make follow up visits. Before each visit, explain what you hope to accomplish by the visit. In the car after the visit, discuss the visit and how the conversation went, as well as what your next step for continued follow up will be.
- Go with a passion for fruit. The point of making follow up visits is not to check off that you have made them. It is to actually connect with people. If someone isn’t home, plan for when you will go back. If they committed to come to a connection group next Sunday, look for them, and if they didn’t make it, call or visit again.
- Set checkpoints for evaluation. Every Friday, I get a list of all the assigned follow up that is taking place and who has been reached, who wasn’t home, what visits haven’t been made yet. This allows us to reassign visits as needed for Saturday. Determine checkpoints of evaluation for your church, and be tenacious in staying on top of it. Basically, follow up on the follow up.
- Pray. Most of all, pray for those with whom you are following up. Soulwinning and discipleship isn’t a sales job in which you just do the work and will eventually see results. It’s true that God blesses our obedient effort, and there is a direct correlation between planting the seed of the gospel and seeing a harvest. We must remember, however, that this is a spiritual war. Pray for God to work in the hearts of the people you are working to reach.
That God would allow us to have a part in reaching souls with the gospel and then helping new Christians in their spiritual growth is a tremendous privilege. I hope these tips will help you to use that privilege with diligence.