I've been officially in ministry at my new appointment since July 30 and I've been having a blast. My duties are fairly broad ... Meet young people and begin an alternative worship service.
And, duties as assigned ... As is the life of an associate pastor. But, that's been super minimal thus far.
So, I've been drinking a lot of coffee in the community. A. Lot. Of. Coffee. If you follow me on Facebook, IG, or Twitter, you'll see a lot of pictures like this one. Coffee. Coffee all the time.
And never in my office. Because, while people do stop by the office on occasion, and I have several coworkers in the office, new people aren't coming to my office. My calling in this place is to meet new people. Younger people that might not have the inclination that seasoned church folk might have to just drop by the office if something is going on.
A few things that I'm doing to meet new people in this new place:
- I go to places where people are. Millennials (the current crop of young adults in America) drink a lot of coffee. So, I'm drinking that coffee in local places. When I arrive at the local place, I usually have my name tag on - that has "Rev" on it, for sure. Names carry power, and if people know mine at the start, that drops a barrier right off the bat. I also like to put it out there ASAP that I'm a pastor when I meet new people. It's more authentic, in my opinion. And, honestly, I find it easier to do sermon prep and Bible study elsewhere. It's a good thing to have your Bible with you out in public - an actual print copy of the Bible.
- I'm out there with regularity. At least a couple of hours a day I'm out of the office and in the community doing something. I'm currently rotating around to the local places to find where the people are. Eventually I'll be establishing 'office hours' that aren't in my church office so that people can find me more easily. And yes, at least one of those days will be EARLY. Because people are out and getting their coffee early. I'm getting to know the baristas and servers at these places too. They are keys to the community.
- I check in on social media. As soon as I arrive I'm posting on FB, IG, and Twitter, because it lets people know where I am. AND if I can do anything to let people know that the small business in my community are amazing, I'll do that. We need to be in our cities and showing people that we're proud of them.
- I'm open to interruption. There's etiquette to co-working spaces like coffeshops. If you have earbuds in, you're not to be bothered. So, unless I'm really grinding through something that needs to be done, my earbuds are out and I'm ready to be interrupted. Nothing is more important than meeting new people with the potential of being a conduit for the Gospel to do its work.
- I take meetings outside of the office whenever possible. Sometimes a thing needs to be private and the office is important. But, most things can happen outside of the church. If I can meet somebody at a local diner, bar, coffee shop, I will. Maybe they'll hear us talking about the church - and then the interruption can happen.
This is a much slower process than when I pastored at a coffee shop last year. It's easier to meet people when you've created a literal space for people to meet. But, just last week on two separate occasions I ran into people from my church that introduced me to other people - one person who runs a local nonprofit THAT I'M TOURING THIS WEEK.
It's all caps because I'm excited to get to know my community better.
I'm also seizing the opportunities that I have being at a church where outside groups are setting up their meetings. More on this later, but I'm taking on sports ministry (with a lot of help with staff and volunteers that have already gotten something amazing going). Cards on the table: I'm not an athletic guy ... But I have kids and my kids like their sports and we have a league meeting on our church campus during the fall and spring.
SIGN YOUR KIDS UP FOR LOCAL SPORTS. When my kids get older, I won't be volunteering them for things, they'll get to choose, but right now they provide a wonderful avenue for meeting new people in the community. And - they need friends and community that sports provide.
In closing, I'll ask you - how are you meeting new people outside of your church walls?