Hi Terri! Welcome back!
I had saved this article awhile back and just came across it again. I'm hoping that it might have something in there for you - even it's just to let you know that you're on the right track!
Finding the Lost Sheep
After lunch, Lowman spoke about an important topic: Bringing missing members back into the fold. I have given this much thought since hearing his message.
Jesus gave us three examples about the importance of finding lost members of our church. There was the story of the lost sheep where the shepherd searched until it was found. There was the father and the prodigal son; and how the father rejoiced when he came home. And then the was the homemaker who searched until she found her lost coin. We should follow Jesus' example and find those from our church who have been "lost" and bring them home with rejoicing!
How many times have you gone to church and noticed that someone was missing, but you didn't know why? Then the following week they were there, yet you forgot to tell them how they were missed... And then they missed again... and again, until one day, you didn't even notice they were gone?
Every church has members who, for one reason or another, left the congregation. Many of these people have never sought out the fellowship of another church. So, what are they doing each week instead of attending? Who knows, but perhaps you should make it your job to find out!
There could be dozens of men, women, and children who would love to know that you care. That you wish they were coming each week. That you miss their fellowship.
If you aren't sure who these people are, ask for the church membership list and make a note of each person who is not there over a period of a month. Then seek out the rest of the list. Now, of course this is easier in a smaller congregation, but the task could be divided up among several members in a larger church.
Don't forget how important an encouraging word, a hug, and a smile are to current members. You CAN prevent members from being lost in the first place!
If your church does not have in place a way to encourage, bond, and keep up with the members of your church, ask about instituting a new system at the next board meeting.
Here are some of my ideas for making a go of this:
Hospitality Ministry: Encourage families to "practice" the Biblical admonition of hospitality. (1 Peter 4: 9). If needed hold a class about the ministry of hospitality and how it can be used effectively. Read the book Creative Hospitality by Nancy van Pelt.
New members desperately want to make friendships and "fit in" with the other members of the church. If a new member does not make solid connections with other members within the first 9 months, they will likely drop out. Ways to use hospitality:
Invite new and current members to supper.
Church Activities: Ice Cream Social, Spaghetti Night, Proverbs 31 Clubs, Bible Study Groups, Sabbath School Socials, etc.
Create a Welcome Kit for New members and have the Welcome Committee visit the new member at home and give it as a gift.
Just visit them at home and leave a homemade loaf of bread or platter of cookies.
Assign each new and old or potential member to a Deacon and his wife. Then the Deacon is responsible for contacting the member on a regular basis, inviting them for supper, or just dropping by to say hello.
Assign tasks to members who wouldn't necessarily offer to do something. For instance, many people would never offer to lead a discussion, provide dessert for the Sabbath School Party, or decorate the bulletin board, but if asked they would feel joy in performing the task because they are contributing something worth while to the church.
Make a point of saying hello to someone at church you do not know very well. Ask questions about her:
Where are you from?
What do you do?
How old are your children? What are their names?
How was your week?
Then offer information about yourself. Really listen to what she says and then ask more questions! Remember to do it again next week!
Spend Sabbath afternoon writing a note to someone you noticed was missing that morning at church. Let them know you care! Everyone enjoys getting handwritten letter in the mail. These days writing notes has become a lost art and the receiver will be even more delighted in the simple act - knowing that you cared enough to sit down, took the time to write them a note of encouragement and love. A handwritten letter symbolizes so much more than just what the words say. It represents a part of you, that part that cares, that part that believes this missing person, a child of the King, was important enough for you to stop what you were doing and let them know you noticed they were gone.
Also, remember this important point: Just because someone does not say hello to you does not mean he or she does not need someone to say hello to them. There are many, many people who are too shy to speak up, who are hurting and want someone to notice, or are so lonely that they don't know where to begin or even how to make a friend.
Just because you have your own circle of friends, does not mean everyone has their own circle of friends. I can't count the times in the past where I visited a church and knew no one, and yet NO one came up to me to greet me, see if I had any questions, or if I was interested in coming back again the following week. Open your circle every chance you get and invite new people in. You will be the one who is blessed! http://www.avirtuouswoman.org/