What if you encouraged people to visit other churches close to them a few times a month? Purposes?
1. To build connections where weekday relationships might be built.
2. To bring needs from nearby churches back to the assembly, for prayer and for practical ministry considerations (how can we help our brothers and sisters in thisâ€¦)
3. To set an example of finding and purposely seeking pathways of connection with other believers.
To be honest, until a few years ago, I would have thought this was the craziest thing I had ever heard! What?!?! Actually encourage people to visit other churches? But, they might decide to keep going to that other church, and that would be just awful!
Since that time, my understanding of the church has changed, my understanding of members has changed, my understanding of leadership has changed, and my understanding of unity has changed. And, guess what? This not only sounds like a good idea, it’s something that I do on a regular basis.
No, really, it’s true. I’m an elder/pastor of a church, and I encourage people to meet with other churches. (Crazy, right?)
Now, I think that Art’s 3 points above are great. I would only add a few things.
1. Don’t simply meet with the other church. Instead, plan to have lunch/dinner with someone in order to get to know them. By the way, if you don’t plan it (ahead of time if possible), then many times it won’t happen because people tend to scatter as soon as the “benediction” is prayed.
2. Don’t only make leader-to-leader relationships. Try to build relationships with others (and I’m going to ask about this later).
3. Don’t use this time as a bash session. If you want to talk about the other church, then find reasons to praise them, don’t criticize them.
Now… here’s the question that I have for my readers. If you were going to do this – if you were going to encourage people to meet with other churches – which churches do you think they should choose? What criteria would you use?
(If you want to make comment on this topic, or add to the suggestions/reasons/etc. please feel free to do so.)