How a summer camp fail and a ChMS can help your ministry succeed

How a summer camp fail and a ChMS can help your ministry succeed

As a ministry leader, you aim to earn the trust of folks who come into your ministries to help them grow in their faith.

And each person brings with them previous experiences that are unknown to you and your community.

But, by not understanding each person's unique context as they come into your programs, you risk creating one-size-fits-all approaches that could lead to missed ministry connections or harm relationships.

Therefore, you need systems, processes, and church technology that ensures your team will understand more about folks as they enter into your ministries. Personalized experiences can help affect positive outcomes and avoid frustration, hurt, or anger.

What does this have to do with a Family Summer Camp experience and ministry success?

One time, at Family Camp

This past summer, my family attended a camp together. And as parents, my wife and I were looking forward to creating positive memories with our two daughters. The camp offered many opportunities for these moments to happen, all built to create memorable experiences.

But, as can often happen even in church ministry, their staff was trained to follow strict processes and procedures to best cater to the many families and ensure every camper's safety.

Enter the Ropes Course

As my oldest daughter and I were preparing to climb the ropes course, a sweet couple in their late 70's, and part of a large multi-generational family, caught the attention of the young ropes course staff. The course staff was enamored with the couple, impressed with their bravery in facing the course and their fears. So was I.

The entire staff, every single one of them, gravitated toward that couple. Nobody bothered to ask my daughter or me if we had any questions, had ever attempted a ropes course, or had any concerns. They didn't learn that I'm terrified of heights!

They had no idea I was trying to be brave in front of my daughter so that we could create memories of conquering this ropes course together that would forge a bond between us and create lifelong memories. Nor that I had lots of questions and was terrified of what the course had in store.

Nobody came alongside us to answer any questions or prepare us for what lay ahead.

Like any dad would do, I ventured up the first obstacle with my daughter, masking my inner desire to quit and disappoint my daughter. She was ready to conquer the world. I was scared to death.

We made it up the first ladder together - and then I looked down.

I'll spare you the details, but let's just say I got hurt and didn't make it past the second obstacle before getting down from the course.

The look of disappointment on my daughter's face was a gut punch that still feels bruised today.

A staff member finally realized I was injured and needed to abandon my daughter and offered to go through the course with her in my place. She finally had a worthy guide - but unfortunately, her memories of conquering the ropes course were made with someone else, not me. #ouch

One-size-fits-all ministry breaks down

When people don't come in with the same backgrounds and experiences,  the same approach for everybody can quickly leave somebody out.  And bad experiences might drive someone away from your church, cause them pain, or even leave them questioning their faith altogether.

Ministry success through church software and processes

As people come into your church through your Newcomer's Class or other methods, what opportunities are you creating to capture their past experiences, concerns, and expectations?

  • How can you discover if they feel a bit out of their comfort zone?
  • How can you find out about past experiences or fears that might impact a positive experience?

Remember, your goal is to encourage and engage folks further into your community and their faith journey, not drive them away frustrated, hurt, or angry.

In its most basic form, discipleship means relationships, says Phil Dieke, Assoc. Pastor of Discipleship & Digital Ministry at White Rock UMC. And relationships are built around trust and shared experiences.

Just as the camp staff trains to follow strict processes and procedures, you need to remember it's not just about checking each box along the way. It's about earning trust and ensuring safety along the way.

15 Ways Your ChMS Can Help Provide Context for Success

  1. Ask qualifying questions in interest forms, event registrations, surveys, and follow-up conversations.
  2. Drop a few open-ended questions into forms and conversations and let them lead you deeper into exploratory discussions.
  3. Review any available information on each person in your church database.
  4. Mark their attendance at events in your ChMS so staff can see their activity in the future.
  5. Send follow-up surveys and communications that create a constant feedback loop and points of connection.
  6. Share what you learn about folks in your ChMS so that other staff will have access.
  7. Connect each person with others on your staff team and other members of your church community.
  8. Add them to relevant static and dynamic lists.
  9. Invite them into relevant groups, both in-person and through your Church App.
  10. Enter any Family Dynamics in the church database that you discover as you get to know them better.
  11. Update their Membership and Engagement Statuses as they deepen their ties with your church community.
  12. Invite them to enter their family in your Church App to get everyone into your church database.
  13. Share helpful content that speaks into areas of interest for them.
  14. Invite them to support your church financially through online giving.
  15. Learn their motivations for giving so you can help them see how they play a role in ministry success within your church community.

Beyond your Church Management System, make sure to:

  • Pray for God's direction as you begin building a relationship with them.
  • Look them up on social media channels and get an idea of what might be going on in their life.
  • Discover who in your church or network they might be friends with on social media.
  • Ask others on your church staff if they know each person.

Safe Spaces Take Intentionality and Availability

Most importantly, create safe spaces and make it clear that they are always welcome to let you know if they feel uncomfortable or have questions. Then make sure you're available when they are looking to talk.

Remember, the goal is that they feel welcome, safe, and able to control how fast or slow they progress deeper into your community and throughout their faith journey.

How might Communitas Technologies help your church succeed?

With the Communitas Platform, we provide technology that can partner with your relational ministry and help you create engaging ways for folks to share more about themselves before, during, and after each church experience.

If this is something you're exploring, we invite you to schedule a time to talk with our team.

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