Before I planted a church, I thought planters just sat around a coffee shop and people would walk up to them and say, “I need to know Jesus” and then they would baptize them with a soy latte. I found out quickly if you sit in a coffee shop all day, people will just assume you are either unemployed or a graphic designer.
We are often thrown into it at school and then as adults in the workplace. Though we have done this our entire lives, meeting people is still one of the most intimidating things to do. It can be awkward and somehow we turn into people we are not. Planting a church requires you to be out in your neighborhoods and community, constantly meeting new people. The thing we have to figure out is how we do it in a way where we are not awkward or straight up weird.
So when I began planting a church I also began the journey of learning how to network.
Networking is the art of meeting new people to expand the knowledge of your brand and show you care about your community. It is not just to meet new people to invite to your church. There are times this happens but more often you meet people who are already connected to a church or have no desire to go to church, especially yours. When I began networking I was discouraged greatly because I felt everyone was already going to church and kept wondering what the point was of me being out there. When I realized networking was not just about the invite, but also about expanding the brand and showing we care about our community, I fell in love with networking and more importantly, the people.
I say often that some of our best inviters and recommenders of our church have never been or never will attend our church. But since we have connected out in the community and we have formed a trust-worthy friendship, they will tell their clients, employees, and friends to go check us out.
What I have learned in planting is that it is all about meeting people and really loving them right where they are. Knowing people in your community, from hospital presidents to start-up business owners, will get your foot in the door to someone God intends for you to share the love and grace of Jesus with.
Networking turns the community into your office.
Begin by calling, emailing, or stopping by someone’s office and just introduce yourself as a new pastor of a new church in the community. Ask simple questions like “What is your favorite part of this community?” and “Where do you see it needing to grow?”
Who do you begin with? School superintendents have a pulse for most of the community. Chamber of commerce directors can tell you who is active in the business arena. All elected officials are always looking for something to do, so they might as well meet with you.
Once you meet with a few people, it will begin to snowball and you will know more and more people.
Some weeks you will meet 30 people at a Chamber meeting and other weeks people will unfriend you on Facebook. But don’t stop being in your neighborhood and community.
Every week you will learn more about the people God has called you to serve and share the love and grace of Christ with.
As you meet people you will be amazed at who God puts in your path and how they will be an integral part of creating a new church and celebrating new life in Christ.
Best places I’ve found to start meeting people:
- Chamber of Commerce
- town council meetings
- non-profit agencies
- school system (PTO, sporting events, school board meetings, etc.)
- local farmers’ market
- pick-up basketball games
Do not be afraid to look people up and call them. Remember: people are just one invitation away from a transformed life.