Over the last month, I took my own advice on delegating tasks. Check out the post on Five Tips for Growing Your Leadership Team.
In my own young adult group, Grapevine, I have a team of people who help with the mission. I like to think of them as part of the "core" of my ministry.
Every ministry has a core. They are the people who consistently come to meetings, group events, etc. You know the type. They are the group from which I chose leaders.
For example, when my friend Xavier and I started our ministry almost two years ago, we had a core of about fifteen people. We could count on them showing up week after week. They were a physical representation of the ministry and continue to embody what it means to be a member of Grapevine.
The size of your core is a great measure for growth. These are the people who have been inspired by your ministry. They are bought in. It is through them that your vision of the ministry will be brought to life.
So How Do You Grow Your Core?
This is a slow process. Our core, after nearly two years, now consists of about twenty-five regulars. We have tracked attendance since the beginning, even going as far as having a "new faces" tally for people who show up to the meeting for the first time.
From June to December of 2021, we had 92 new faces over our first six months. During the year of 2022 we had an additional 88 new faces. This year so far, during January and February, we saw another 18 new faces. That's 198 people total.
I've often wondered why we don't have 198 people at our meetings on a weekly basis. Our core is just 13% of those who have experienced our ministry. Why do those 87% of people rarely attend, if at all?
There really isn't one answer that encapsulates why people don't come back. It lies in the heart of each individual. But I believe this "failure rate" can be mitigated.
A Culture of Invitation
Think of yourself, the leader, as being the host of your events. A host's job is to greet every guest and make sure they feel welcome at your event. This can be hard work indeed.
Sometimes the difference between a new person coming back or not is a simple, friendly greeting from the leader of the group. Think of your own experiences: have you ever shown up to an event, but no one made an effort to welcome you? Did you want to go back?
How did that feel versus someone shaking your hand, asking your name, and actually talking with you, communicating "I'm glad you're here!". This gesture speaks volumes, sometimes even more than the specific service your ministry itself provides.
This can be a tough task to stick to as a leader. There are many things going on, and you've got to be on top of all of them. Greeting new people is a prime job to delegate to your leadership team.
Have you ever heard of Protestant churches—or the rare Catholic church—having legions of people assigned to greet new faces at various points before and after the service? They can go crazy with this, but clearly they know the value of making an impression on the new people by being welcoming at the individual, person-to-person level.
When entering an unfamiliar place, people want more than anything to be seen and welcomed, otherwise they will feel negative emotion.
This is deeply ingrained in the human psyche going back tens or even hundreds of thousands of years. New = Danger. We must counter this Paleolithic fear people feel when encountering a new tribe.
Better Welcoming = Bigger Core
Those who keep coming back become part of your core. As your core grows, fewer people proportionately will be new, meaning you won't have to dedicate the same resources and effort to welcome them—they already know they're welcome. (Don't neglect them altogether, though).
This task of welcoming, therefore, becomes easier as time goes on. It's not just you anymore, and your team's energy toward welcoming new people can have a better chance of succeeding when your efforts are focused on a few new people, rather than many.
I recommend that the person you designate to be the "welcomer" be as different from you as possible. For example, if you are a man, designate a woman, or vice-versa. This helps newcomers of different demographics feel more welcome. You don't want to give the impression of a clique-y community.
Remember your core for drawing upon leadership team members, but also as those who are bought-in on your ministry.
They are the wider group you're trying to build, because they are the embodiment of your ministry beyond a mere concept. They are the success stories that give credence to your ministry. In a real sense, they are your ministry.