People (Continued)

As we’ve established, I love helping people take their next steps. Just yesterday – even after oral surgery – I was able to help someone find a small group and an area of service. It was energizing – even during the time of day that the oral surgeon told me I’d be tired!

But even with that being said, my comfort zone still falls squarely behind a computer screen. When dealing with people, I prefer email or text.

Gratefully, our Lead Pastor sometimes understands how my brain is wired and has allowed me to serve in a capacity that helps people take their next steps. At our church, we call it the “What’s Next” desk. It’s in a perfect place – out of the way, not obstructing traffic flow, and in a place where guests can stop by just before leaving the building.

For some special events, we might ask guests to stop by What’s Next and find out about our church.

For our last major event, we relocated the What’s Next desk to another part of the lobby (it’s on wheels). It was still off to the side – visible, but not obnoxiously in the way.

For Christmas Eve, we’ve had a donation of some cool coffee mugs, filled with candy and other treats. We’ll ask people to stop by What’s Next, sign our digital guestbook, and then we’ll draw names for some give-aways.

This is where it gets interesting.

I asked our Director of Worship Ministries where he’d like the What’s Next desk on Christmas Eve? His answer: Centrally located in the lobby.

Centrally located.

Centrally.

Really?

Yes.

Also, could you position it so that people can’t get behind it?

I’m pretty sure he hasn’t thought that through.

Or has he?

Because if people can’t get behind it…

and I’m a person…

then logic tells me that I cannot be behind it.

I came home and whined to my kids.

“People are trying to convince me that I’m a people person.”

“You are!”

I should also remind them that I pay their car insurance and their cell phone bills.

Would that make me a people person?

I do love helping people take their next steps.

Process.

Progress.

People.

Prayer.

As I pray, God is revealing that He’s using some special people (there’s that word again!) to help me take mine.

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People

Over the last 3-4 weeks, a few very kind, friendly, and overly-excited people at our church have set out on a mission: to make me a people person.

It’s working, but don’t tell them.

I have a reputation to uphold.

Let me give a brief history. I like people. I do. I really do.

But how I show this like for people is through how I structure a database or how I lay out a web site. You’ll see my like for people in some of my designs. You’ll see it in how I design a response form. You’ll see how I like people when I get to set up a room for one of my boss’ meetings. Then I get to quietly sit in my office – working on database updates or web site updates or social media posts – while someone else stands before the people.

But one thing I do love is helping people take their next steps.

This actually started several years ago with the database. (Yes, really.)

I was setting up systems and processes in the database and watching people (there’s that word again) move through our system.

Seeing people go from first-time guest to being fully-connected at our church.

But I also got to see the part I didn’t like. Seeing people’s names remain in the first time guest category that went unchanged. The people who didn’t come back.

Where are they? Was there something our church could have done differently? Are they connected to a church – if not ours – somewhere?

I began to implement systems and processes designed to help people move from first-time guest to fully-connected. I went from data entry to developing and being part of the process.

Because it’s more than just a database. It’s people. People getting connected to church. People getting connected to Jesus.

And thus began my transition from Database Administrator to Next Steps Director.

I tried to stay focused on the database. People won. Every time.

A few years later, I now serve as our Lead Pastor’s Executive Assistant. Each week I get to serve at our What’s Next desk. I get to help introduce people to their next steps at our church. Also every week, I get to hand-write note cards to each of our first-time guests. I use the verbiage “get to” very intentionally.

You might argue that I get paid. It’s my job. I have to do it.

You’d be partially correct.

I do get paid. It’s a privilege. I get to do it.

So a few weeks ago, one of my kind, friendly, and overly-excited friends saw my stack of hand-written note cards awaiting their trip from my desk to the mailbox and asked me, “do you actually meet and know those people?

I locked my office door, crawled under my desk, and ate carbohydrates.

Go away.” I said it nicely and in a joking tone of voice, although I may have been serious.

“How big is your circle of friends at this church?” she asked.

“I like my co-workers.”

“Really…how many people do you know?”

“Five. Maybe six. Okay, four.

“That is not enough. We need to get you out of the office.”

“I like my office. I keep carbs in here. Here – have some pretzels.”

Little did she know, God was also at work.

One of the other things I get to do: if someone is interested in serving, but isn’t quite sure where or how to start, I get to follow up with them.

Some people naturally know where they’d like to serve.

Others have no idea where to start. And it’s important to find that place where ability, affinity, and affirmation all meet.

So there I was: scheduled to meet with someone who wanted to serve, but had no idea where to start.

She came into my office and we talked about her – what led her to our church, how long she’d been coming, and what she liked about church. We talked about her family and her history, and what issues were important to her.

She wanted to serve…

In the nursery or with children? No…not really…

With our guest services team. Her brow furrowed.

We talked about some local missions opportunities. Her eyes lit up. The corners of her mouth turned up. And I knew, we’d found it.

And then I got to update the database…

This blog is about the process of progress. But I might need to edit to add a word: people.