Pastoral Letter: Connection Cards and Giving Envelopes

Dear Calvary:

This past Sunday, we launched some changes that will help us to care for members and reach out to our guests. The following notes are an excerpt from my message on Sunday, August 14. These notes are meant to give an overview of our new ministry of First Responders and to introduce our new Connection Card. These notes are partial; they are intended to give you some basic understanding of what we are doing and why.

Giving Envelope

Our new Giving Envelope will replace the white tithe envelope and the pink envelope which we have used on Sunday mornings. Simply put your check in the new envelope and indicate whether it is a tithe or gift to missions, benevolence, etc.

Please be sure to indicate clearly on the envelope what your gift is for (tithe, missions, benevolence, etc.), and how much you are giving to the area(s).
By the way, please feel free to use the envelopes which Calvary will continue to mail to our members. Those envelopes are for your convenience and planning. And, online giving is also available.

Thanks for being a part of the family at Calvary and for taking the time to read this letter.

The Shepherd loves the sheep,

Pastor Steve : )

Connection Cards, Offerings, and First Responders

Calvary, we are working hard to bring about several important improvements in our services and our pastoral ministry. Here is a brief description and some of the reasons behind our new initiative.

1. Starting on August 21, we will put the Giving Envelopes and Connection Cards in the bulletins that are passed out at the doors as you enter. This will save us from having to pass so much information and materials down the rows every Sunday for our offering time.

2. What are First Responders?

  • First Responders are at the heart of the assimilation system at Calvary.
  • The main goal of this ministry is to help first time guests become fully functioning members of the body of Christ at Calvary.
  • Another key goal for First Responders is to reach out to and connect with members of Calvary who are absent. We want to be intentional in pastoring the sheep which God has called to our pasture.
  • God has convicted us through this scripture that we need to do a better job of caring for the sheep God brings to Calvary.

Ezekiel 34:1-16 Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel…4… the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost…. 5 “And they were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. 6 “My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill, and My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth; and there was no one to search or seek for them….” 8 …My shepherds did not search for My flock…. 9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10 ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am against the shepherds…. 11 For thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. 12 “As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered…16 “I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken, and strengthen the sick…” (NASB).

3. Since April 2011, servant leaders at Calvary have worked to design this new ministry system. We are so grateful for their labor of love. We are in a learning process, building the bridge as we go. As a learning community, we will work over the coming months to improve the First Respondersprocess so that we can help first time guests become fully functioning members of the body of Christ. Our system doesn’t have to be totally complete nor perfect before we start helping people connect with Calvary. Rather, we will be a learning community, figuring out as we go what is working, what needs tweaking, what needs changing, and what needs revising.
4. There are many facets to the assimilation system.

  • The assimilation process starts when someone drives onto our parking lot.
  • Do they feel welcomed, accepted, and greeted? (Adopt a spot in the sanctuary)
  • Do they know where to go?
  • Do they know what to do when they get here?
  • Do they have enough interaction and information to understand their next steps?
  • Every member of Calvary is called to help guests feel welcomed as they come to worship with us. We should all be available to people to address the issues above.

5. Our assimilation system includes helping members remain connected to the body of Christ at Calvary.

  • We need an intentional way to identify and to connect with those who have disconnected from the body for whatever reason (health, travel, conflict, crisis, discouragement, frustration, etc.)
  • Asking members to fill out a Connection Card helps us to be there for them, to care for them, and to provide for them.

6. During the Service: Connection Card

  • Follow up with first time guests is only possible if we collect their contact information in a simple, comprehensive, and non-threatening way. If a first time guest visits the church and we fail to gather contact information, we have lost all ability to follow up and assist in moving him/her from a first time guest to a second time guest status.
  • We are using the Calvary Connection Card to secure information from first time guests. It is a simple card that is easy to fill out. On the card, we collect contact info, prayer requests, and any spiritual next steps (steps of growth) that an individual feels he/she needs to take in response to the service that day. (The Connection Card replaces the Guest Card and the Membership Application Card.)
  • During the announcements, we will let first time guests know that they may drop a completed Connection Card in the Offering Basket or at the Welcome Center.

7. In order to make the Connection Card more effective for collecting the contact information of first time guests, we ask that everyone (including regular attenders and members) fill out Connection Cards as well. Everyone places a completed Connection Card into the Offering Baskets.

8. Obviously, some families will let one family member fill out the Connection Card. (Just list family members attending that day.) That is their decision. But, we hope that by encouraging everyone to fill out a card, our guests will do so, too. (We are doing this to model and encourage our guests as well as care for members.)

9. Regarding regular attenders and members: We only need their names on the card. And be sure to indicate information that has changed, to record prayer requests, or to share about their next steps.

10. Children do not need to fill out a Connection Card, nor do they need a bulletin.

11. Recycling: We will encourage people to recycle any extra Connection Cards or Giving Envelopes in designated boxes as they exit the building.

12. Post Weekend Follow up: First Responders 

  • This is where the ministry of the First Responders comes into play. We have devised a process to connect with first time guests, second time guests, and regular attenders. (We will also contact absentee members.)
  • We will make phone calls to our guests, send them letters, bless them with gift cards, and sow into their spiritual journey with books, etc.

13. Here is what we taught the First Responders regarding reaching out to Absentee Members. We will call them within 36 hours of the service they’ve missed.

  • Task 1: Let them know they were missed and that we sincerely care.
  • Task 2: Ask if they need help. Make sure they are ok.
  • Task 3: Ask them how we can pray for them and then pray for them.
  • We desire to express care and to follow up with needs which we may discover.

14. Why are we doing this?

  • I [pastor Steve] am not the owner of this flock. God is. He is a shepherd who says, “If you don’t go after my sheep, I will do it myself and I will be against you!”
  • The Lord is the owner of this flock….I work for him. He is the kind of owner who will leave the 99 and go after the one.
  • I must be like him, do what he would do, and watch over his flock while remembering my assignment.
  • I read of one church with 8,000 attenders and they call everyone who misses every week. Now that pastor can’t do that by himself and I can’t do it with 400 to 500.
  • But I can create a culture of caring and a pastoral net that does our best to care for people, touch them, be there for them when there is a need, and bring them back if they are about to stray.
  • The heart of calling members is two-fold: we care and God asks to do it. We want to be there for people as soon as we can.
  • This is about family, not policing!

15. What should be our response when someone calls us to ask how we are? Love, love, love, and gratitude that you belong to a church that is trying to care for people and reach out to discover when someone may be hurting or have a need.

  • Please don’t let me hear of someone being mean to a first responder. That would be like being mean to a volunteer fireman who is working hard to help others.
  • You may not like the system. There is no perfect system. But it is an attempt to care, to be there, to reach out a hand.
  • I expect each of us to be kind, considerate, and thankful.

16. We will officially begin this ministry on Sunday, August 14. We will make adjustments as we go, knowing that we will make mistakes, some things will fall through the cracks, but our heart is to press in to a ministry of caring for Calvary’s members and reaching out effectively to Calvary’s guests.

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