As many people have recognized in many different studies of how a church (should) works, people who attach themselves to a church move through various stages of connection, involvement, and commitment to the church. For our own understanding at Quinton Baptist, I would suggest the following movements, which I will further explain below:
These five movements represent steps in a cycle with people first connecting with the help of those who have been sent.
- Connect – This is a when a church first makes contact with an individual. The individual may or may not have understood Christ’s saving work for them, and they may or may not have accepted it and been involved in other churches. When someone attends for the first time, the church reaches out to people who have moved into the community, or a new comer fills out an information card at a community event, they have made a connection. This is the widest and fullest pool of people, for it can include anyone.
- Evangelize – Not everyone who goes through the connection step has to be evangelized. This is where those who have connected to the church hear the gospel. They move out of the step when they have accepted the gospel.
- Involve -In this step, the work of the church is to connect people with one another. Fellowship events, worship gatherings, small groups, day trips, and movie nights are just a small sampling of how the church involves people together. Involving includes a mixture of believers and non-believers.
- Train – Training is something that happens particularly for believers, though non-believers may certainly be present during a time of training. Worship services, sermons, discipleship classes, Sunday School classes, small groups, and any place where the Bible is opened and discussed is an opportunity for training. The goal of training is to develop fully devoted followers of Christ who display the fruits of the Spirit and actively seek to obey the word. Training is any place where spiritual growth takes place through the efforts of the church.
- Send – The ultimate goal of any church should be to send out believers for the purpose of fulfilling the Great Commission of going into all the world, making disciples. Mission trips, missionary commissioning, service projects, food pantries, and any ministry or function that reaches out to the community (whether next door or across the oceans) is a ministry of sending. Those who are sent make it their purpose to connect to people and start the cycle again.
As you may have noted in the explanation of the different stages, these are not necessarily sequential, and people may find themselves in two or three of the stages at the same time. But the goal of the church should be to reach out and connect to people and then work with those people to move them to the point where the church sends them out to connect to other people.