We arrived at the circus later than I had hoped. That morning the boys were piddling around and I thought I was meeting my mom and sister there at a certain time, however they were already there. I hate being late. And even more I hate traffic.
A long line formed as cars began to snake around the arena to enter. We creep in the line for 5 minutes until someone bolts out of line from behind me and speeds past the entire lane to a new lane parallel to the one I’m. At first I said, “people are so impatient.” Then I started to watch other cars move over to the new lane.
So what leadership lesson does this illustrate? Entry points are vital to one’s experience in both church and small groups.
An entry point is a low risk, high reward starting point.
"Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God." Romans 15:7
How do we create entry points for ministry? Much of our ministry planning focuses on the end goal however we need to make just as much if not more time to front load the entry points for those goals.
Do we expect too much, too soon from people? Consider the small steps that could lead to the ultimate big goal.
Possible entry points:
Website: it’s the new front door to the church. Create it for people who are not there rather than members.
Short term groups: At The Gathering we have Explore which is a “try groups” invite. A short four week group to test drive small groups.
Events: what’s cool about events is that they can be deep dives, focus on hacks, social gatherings, off site options, and more. They count best when you get attendees’ names and emails so that you can follow up and say thank you. From there you can invite them to other entry points or then to worship.
Serve Others: I love the city wide ways people serve these days. Inviting people to serve with you in the city is an amazing entry point which is others focused.
Serve Them: Think of parent nights out, special needs events/support, after school programs, etc…
For an entry point to be maximized it must be planned well and from the point of view of the one who will experience it. Too often our communications, events, service centers the church rather than those not there.. yet. If we’re not intentional we create church as an echo chamber rather than an inviting and welcoming community entry point for others.
Once I made it through the circus parking lanes. I remembered that at the beginning of the line, there was a sign that said form two lines. This instruction however was so far from the end of the line and was never repeated. I’m only remembering after the experience that it was even there.
The lesson here is to communicate, repeatedly. Invite. Re-invite. Send Reminders. Build energy and excitement as you communicate. Remember to focus on them. What value or benefit will one receive by participating? I mean people are giving up time, energy, brain power - make your entry point easy and worthy of their attention.
Action Brings Clarity
What’s one entry point you want to create or improve? Spend an hour a week for the rest of the month doing just that. Carve out time in your calendar now in order to ensure you tend to this important work.
Are you a lay person? What entry point might you participate in? OR Have a conversation with your ministry team about entry points by sharing this blog and discuss its relevance and how it can look in your context.
© Charity Goodwin, 2023.