A weekend crowd is not necessarily a church. You can have a crowd of people showing up for service every weekend with great worship and teaching, but that crowd may not be fulfilling the function and mission of the Church. You need to be able to connect the people in the crowd to your community in order to model the original Church Jesus started.
Acts 2:41 tells us that the Jerusalem Church had a crowd – three thousand one hundred and twenty people to be exact. That’s the number of people hanging out in the upper room and the number of people baptized at Pentecost. All of these people were being drawn together, but they had not yet connected as a Church.
Following a sort of “Next Steps” class, that crowd of people started connecting in home groups and serving one another. This helped the people get connected to each other and to the mission of the Church. Those same believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to prayer, and to the fellowship. They began sharing their resources with other each other and no one was in need of anything. That’s what we call the Church.
As you think about how to move your crowd into community, here are some practical suggestions. These are the steps our church has used for over thirty years to draw the weekend service crowd into our community.
1. Invite “hungry” people in the crowd to take a next step! We provide a class called “Next Steps” that we invite new or disconnected people to in order to get them connected. Over a period of four weeks, we give people a map into our church and help them learn how we develop fully trained disciples.
2. Help people connect to a small group of people for caring and growth! The Jerusalem Church met in a large group and in small groups. Those believers knew that in order to take care of people’s needs and to grow as disciples, they needed to be structured into smaller groups.
3. Mobilize people into ministry teams! The early Church took care of each other and they did so by using their spiritual gifts and talents to meet needs. Obviously some people taught the Word, some people led and played worship, and some people waited on tables. Even if it looked different than it does today, the Church clearly mobilized people to do ministry.
4. Encourage people to commit to the movement! People in the early Church were devoted to Christ and to each other. They had a sense of belonging and were unified in the mission of Christ. Acts 4:32 tells us they… “were of one heart and soul.” In my opinion, this is what membership in a church should look like. There should be a point when people connect through commitment to be “all in” with other local believers.
When you help people step out of the crowd and connect to relationships, to teams of ministry, and to a unified mission, you no longer have a crowd, you have a community!
Impact Discipleship Ministries exists to help people and churches be and build disciples of Jesus Christ. We believe the Church exists to help people be and build disciples, and that means having plan for connecting people. If we can help you in that process, please contact us.