The Importance Of Caring For Your Community
One of the most common strategies for reaching Millennials is to think big. Big gatherings. Big budgets. Big personalities. Big stage. Big hype.
Instead, think small.
Why? Because every church can do small and build from there. But not every church can begin big and work their way down to small.
The small stuff in reaching Millennials is every member ministry, or “the priesthood of all believers.” That entails a pastoral strategy, not an event strategy, or a discipleship initiative rather than a marketing initiative. This type of ministry involves the whole church, ideally, but begins with a small group of leaders who are being taught to care, serve, evangelize, teach, and listen in the way of Jesus.
Comment Magazine recently featured a conversation between Timothy J. Keller and James K. A. Smith. It’s a great interview. The conversation turns to the subject of renewal, and Dr. Smith asks Dr. Keller what aspect of the church is in need of the greatest degree of healing. Dr. Keller pointed to pastoral care, citing transience and the expense of full-time staff. These factors lead to most care being in the form of triage, or crisis ministry, rather than ongoing shepherding. So how do you address this challenge?
The right thing to do is to have a layer of lay leaders; maybe there is an elite group that you can call your elders, but by and large you probably have more like 10 or 15 percent of your people who are mature enough and willing enough and maybe even have the time to be regularly trained by the pastors to do every-member ministry, every-member pastoral care—including evangelism, by the way. Those are the people who bring their friends to church and reach out. But there are also people who are out there just caring for people and then letting you know. They're your radar system; they let the pastors know.
Keller states that ordinary, positive, and proactive pastoral care asks questions like, “How are you doing? Where are you going? How much do you know about Christianity? Where could you grow?” But that isn’t happening. However, it can happen. This is a gap that we can close with intentionality, time, and effort. And it can lead to so many great things in the church’s ministry to Millennials, and everyone else in the body as well.
Who are the people in your congregation who are caring for Millennials? Who welcomes them each Sunday by name, prays for them during the week, and befriends over time? Who are the people taking responsibility for the ongoing mentoring, discipleship, and empowerment of the next generation? We’re not looking for advocates for Millennials, but for everyday ministers who understand our calling to shepherd one another as we follow Jesus, our Ultimate Shepherd.
Pastors, build teams. Invite a few church members to lunch once a month. Teach them to care. Ask them about people they know in the congregation. Ask them who is befriending those who are new. Ask what the body needs to pray about. Check your radar. Then, send these fellow congregants forth to serve, to reach out, to love, to encourage.
That’s the work of the ministry. And everyone is involved.