As women visit our churches or ministry events, we want to help them connect, learn, and grow in their faith. Eventually, it’s our hope that each woman who walks through the door would become active members of the body of Christ. We want to see her grow and begin to serve so that even more women are reached with the love of Christ.
So, how do we help a woman move from first-time visitor to active member?
1. Train for Hospitality
1 Peter 4:9 says, “Be hospitable to one another without complaining.” This states two specific instructions: 1) be hospitable, and 2) do it without complaining.
Hospitality is more than how elaborately you set a table or how smoothly you coordinate an event. It’s a way of opening your home or church along with your heart—a way of welcoming others to an important place in your life. As Christians, it is no longer our choice whom we will welcome or whom we will serve. It is our responsibility to love others as Christ loves us.
Being hospitable is the least difficult assignment; accomplishing it “without complaining” is often the problem. A task is much more enjoyable when we approach it with a proper “heart-itude.” Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men.”
2. Open Your Eyes and Your Heart
Sometimes we forget that a new member is not just like us; we are all different, unique, and special. We each have our individual backgrounds, histories, experiences, strengths, and weaknesses.
Some women come into your church having suffered rejection, abuse, divorce, handicaps, addictions, and failures. Like the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair, she may be among us. Yet, like Simon when Jesus asked him, “Do you see this woman?” (Luke 7:44), we do not really see her. Jesus had to get Simon’s attention to truly “see the woman.” Help her find a class or Bible study that might meet her needs. Open your heart to being her confidant and friend.
Mentoring programs prove to be a great asset in helping to assimilate women into the heart and ministry of your church. Mentors assure women they have someone to pray with and talk to—someone to help them grow. A new member may not be ready for mentoring but may be open to prayer partners. Pair her with a mature Christian woman who has similar interests and who can be trusted to keep prayer confidences.
3. Connect Her to a Small Group
Assimilate new members into your church by accompanying them though various levels of Bible studies—from new member classes to in-depth studies. Help them take one step at a time. If your church offers a new member class, encourage her to participate. This will help her understand the church and its beliefs and have a place to have questions answered. Walk with her into the first meeting and introduce her to the group.
A women’s Bible study or discipleship group is a wonderful way to introduce her to other women. The small group is organized for implementing welcoming procedures and offers closeness and care. Here she can build relationships and feel comfortable sharing about herself. Teachers should be sensitive to comfort levels and refrain from asking new members to pray or read aloud until they know women are comfortable doing so. Perhaps your church offers support groups for singles, widows, mothers of preschoolers, or other special needs groups. The small group offers opportunities to bond and provides new friends and a feeling of belonging.
4. Help Her Find Her Spiritual Gifts
After some time, she will likely be more willing to become involved in various church activities. To help her better serve in areas of personal interest, assist her in identifying her gifts and talents. A woman with a creative spirit might prefer serving on the decorating team rather than the budgeting team. Gift discovery benefits herself and the church as a whole.
5. Move Toward Greater Involvement
Once she identifies her gifts and strengths, include her in ongoing ministries or an upcoming event. Suggest smaller tasks at first, not overwhelming her. She might choose to work behind the scenes in the women’s ministries office, or she may feel confident to work on a small team or project. It is most important to involve her in some way. Using her talents will encourage her to serve not only in your ministry but also in other areas of your church.
What steps do you take to help women connect become more actively involved in your church and ministry?