Written by John Fonzer Jr.
Keeping and Engaging New Converts
1. What active efforts do you take to retain new converts after their conversion?
2. Do you know your annual retention figures and wouldn’t mind sharing them? (i.e., how many converts do
you retain in a given year as members?)
3. What do you do to focus on New Convert instruction? (new converts class;
home Bible study, etc.)
4. What do you do to help new converts become a part of the church family
and make friends in the church? What proactive efforts do you do to encourage this?
5. What do you do to help new converts become involved in ministry?
6. What areas in your church do you feel new converts are capable of being
involved in? (in light of their infant spiritual status)?
Mark Parker, Oklahoma City, OK – Our program is a little longer than we would like, but when it comes to establishing converts in the Word, I don’t know if it is possible to take too long. It is about six months, meeting once a week. We have had good success — if they go all the way through the program. One out of three of those who start the classes remain. Our retention rate is about 65 percent.
We’ve tried giving them something to do before they complete the classes, but we have found they don’t come back and complete the classes. We challenge them that they ought to have two jobs in the ministry: one they would like to do and one where they are needed.
A person is not truly converted until he or she is serving others.
Pastor David Myers, Palm Bay, FL – When people first come to our church, we don’t immediately try to get their information at the door. We used to do that, but it’s a bit intrusive. Now we give out a bag with a brochure and an invitation to the Welcome Center. When they come back there, we invite them to come to our discipleship classes. The main focus is to get them to be a part of a ministry. For people to stick, they have to get a job and make a friend.
We’ve redesigned all our ministries so that people can get involved right away. We have three areas: connect, serve and grow. We’ve divided it down to four levels of services. Each of those levels requires more of a spiritual commitment. After the connect and serve levels, we invite them to the growth classes, which last for six weeks. There we discuss holiness standards, spiritual disciplines and discipleship training. Our retention rate is between 50-60 percent. The longer they stay, the better the chance they will remain.
One of the things we started that resonates with people is a charitable organization called Hands for Healing. It has grown to become the largest food bank in our county.
I’ve found that when people come to your church they want to know what it is happening in the community more than they want to know about your doctrine. No matter where a person is spiritually, even if they only come one time, they can get involved in giving food out to the hungry.
Randy Pate, Pascagoula, MS – If people come to our church and say, “This is my church,” whether they’ve been born again or not, we’ll find something for them to do. Somebody has to type the words for the songs on the computer, pour Kool-Aid, mow and trim bushes. I’ll make anybody a greeter at the door. We have to get them past the mentality that they are coming to Pastor Pates’ church or The Sanctuary, to where they say they are coming to their church. The only requirements are that you show up, be faithful and put a smile on your face. We cycle them into the program so that when new people come, they’ll see somebody who looks like them: people at every level of Christian maturity.
When somebody first comes into our church, we try to offer them a home Bible study or Search for Truth program. When they pray through, we offer them an introductory lesson. I also have a four-lesson series called An Introduction to The Sanctuary. There’s a lesson on who we are, what we believe, what organization
we belong to, and the history of our church. Sometimes the new converts class starts with those four lessons.
We have used different curriculums. The one we are using now has 30 or 40 lessons and lasts the better part of a year. More than half the people that have come through the classes are still with us.
I’ve got somebody better than me to teach the new converts. They are such personable people. There’s nobody better!
Jonathan Vazquez, Potts Camp, MS – We try to get everyone who visits to a breakfast at our church, where I share the vision of our church and how we can help them to become what God wants them to be. We use that as a primary contact.
We have become a lot more streamlined and cognizant. When people get baptized, we have a book we give them called The First 40 Days. Right away, we introduce them to a daily study of the Bible.
We preach heavily on involvement in ministry, so we immediately try to get them involved in an introductory ministry. Before a new convert can be involved in more advanced ministry roles, they are asked to complete a 10-week discipleship course. Our last three or four couples that have joined are thriving and doing well.
Tim Gill, Medora, IN – One of the first things we do that has been very successful is to try to get new converts into our choir. In choir, we find we can teach them faithfulness and assimilation. They automatically try to get to practice, and we find that they learn from others in the choir. We don’t necessarily set a definitive time for that, but of course we have guidelines like commitment, attendance, and going through the discipleship program. We use the same markers for backsliders.
Our discipleship series is called Pathways to Truth, which consists of 16 lessons. Most of our programs are in-house. Sometimes I teach, or one of the ministers does. Our Tuesday night is a continuation of the program series. We call it Kingdom Life. It’s for everyone.