I remember during my sophomore year of high school, my family had started going to a new church. I recognized a couple faces from school, but nobody I knew personally. My mom encouraged me to try out the youth group, so I did. I went to a Wednesday night youth service. I grew up in church so I was very comfortable going by myself and just jumping right in. After getting there I got some smiles, hugs, and some quick small talk before the service started. So I sat down toward the middle hoping someone would sit near me, but nobody did. Worship started and it was fine, all I could think was, “Do I smell…? Am I THAT weird…?” Church ended and I didn’t hear one word the youth pastor said because I felt so left out and disconnected from the group. Needless to say, I didn’t come back and it always made me second guess if I would fit into the next youth group.
Philippians 2:1-4 says, “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” (NLT) Being a leader, you’re looked up to by people. Whether it’s 10 or 10,000, you’re impacting someone and have the opportunity to love so many. So here’s some steps to think about when spreading the love:
1. Introduce Yourself.
Verse 2 of the above passage says, “Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.” Yes, that sounds simple and like something you feel like you already do, but think about it. You’re at church, you see a new family in the lobby, they’re three feet away from a group of your friends. Who do you gravitate towards? Do you do what’s comfortable? Or do you forsake your comfort in order to spread the love?
2. Find Something You Can Relate To.
Learn something you and that person have in common and remember it. Keep that connection to avoid awkward moments that make them feel like they’re “taking up your time". No one wants to feel like you are obligated to speak to them. In verse 4 it says, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” It’s a privilege to get to lead people and be their connection to the church, so make sure you are keeping the first moments spent with them full!
3. Remember Them.
The most common thing I hear from people when I reach out after I missed them for a week is, “You noticed I was gone?” Who doesn’t like to feel missed and wanted? Try reaching out the first week you notice they aren’t there. In my experience, the longer you wait, the less of a chance it is that you will see them again. Especially for that person who tried church for the first time and wasn’t sure. Don’t give them time for doubt to set in that church isn’t for them!
4. Don’t Move On.
Once you’ve made that connection with a family, you’re not done yet. Continue checking in and caring for them. Build them up so that they feel equipped to spread the love. It can feel like you are caring for so many at once, but eventually they will lead from your example and begin the cycle of introducing themselves to new families they notice! It’s going to take time, but you aren’t expected to take over the world in a day. Make people a priority and people will know Christ on a deeper level through you.
God has called us to be selfless, humble, and to love one another. It’s as simple as starting with introducing yourself. Change your mindset from tasks and worrying about everything that could possibly go wrong and focus on being the church to those who are seeking Him. You caring could change someone’s life forever!
Bryce Ledford serves as the NLC Kids Lead at our Next Level Church Somersworth, NH location. A Florida native, Bryce has a passion for people and to see the next generation raised up to be world changers. Each weekend, she leads and oversees over 50 kids volunteers and over 150 kids who are checked in between five experiences. When she's not working, she can be found relaxing at the beach, shopping at her favorite store Target, or enjoying a good meal with her husband, Clint. Bryce & Clint live in Dover, NH.