by Lindsay Kulick
“As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 9:13
A relationship is like playing catch—one person throws the ball to their partner and then the person who receives the ball throws it back. How weird would it be if the partner just caught the ball and kept it? A relationship is just like playing catch—the one who receives must give back. That is how we view response cards. At our midweek service, each student gets a bulletin with notes. The bulletin has a perforated card for them to fill out their info and comments on to turn in. We also have an info booth with small group sign-up sheets, and a 10-Minute Party for new students to fill out their info as well. But what do we do with all this information?
The students who come to your ministry and filled out a card, flier, or info sheet made an effort to get connected—they initiated and acted, they threw the ball first. How weird it would be if we didn’t throw it back?! A tiny little card requesting a name, number, and e-mail can be the start of that person’s new or recommitted walk with God and His bride, the church. We have such a huge responsibility to respond because we are playing a vital role in their walk with the Lord and connection with his family. When someone feels pursued, welcomed, and like family… they will stay, they will grow, they will learn…and it all starts with a purposeful, friendly response. Just how God initiated a relationship with us, we must choose to respond. When a student initiates relationship with community, we must choose to respond.
It is good to follow up with students in a timely manner as well, so the day after our midweek service, our team sorts through the response cards, small group sign-ups, and first-time cards to respond to students appropriately.
Our preferred first point of contact with response cards is a phone call. We love calling new people and asking them about how they enjoyed their night, welcoming them, and telling them about upcoming events and ways to get connected. We love the opportunity to call a student who wrote down a prayer request and pray for them over the phone and offer to meet up with them the next week. A personal phone call is a rare thing these days. We are always texting, tweeting, and e-mailing instead of personally connecting on the phone, or even better, face to face. In our ministry, we also encourage girls to call girls and guys call guys, just to avoid potential confusion or awkwardness!
The people that we are unable to get in touch with on the phone, we send a follow-up e-mail to as well. Following up with an e-mail is another great point of contact. Once we have talked with someone on the phone and gotten to know them better, we try to facebook friend them and leave a nice comment on how much we enjoyed talking to them, how thankful we are for them, and that we look forward to more time together. (Finding them on facebook is also a great tool for us to remember their face and name, which really communicates value to students.)
Sometimes, we leave a voicemail and never hear back from someone and other times, we’ll have awesome chats with students who are really enthusiastic about getting involved and connected. And…yes, sometimes we’ll have talks with students who were disappointed with our ministry. The point is that it’s always important to try and connect with students who provide their information and a desire for deeper connection and involvement. Responding in a way that makes them feel loved, welcomed, and invited is key to following up with a new member or believer. We reflect God’s heart to them as a community and are called to be welcoming, inviting, and hospitable. “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9).
Our responsibility is to not be selective or choosey with whom we welcome and love as a community. No matter who it is, Jesus died for them. We are called to respond as followers of Jesus. We are called to community and called to be shepherds of the flock. “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly,not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” (1 Peter 5:2-4)