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.