(Part 2 of 3)
First Presbyterian Church Lake Placid, FL, has found the Christianity Explored course easy to use for mobilizing people to share the gospel. They have made a few adjustments to make it easier in their situation.
In this blog post, I continue with lessons learned by the leadership team running the course. This week I look through the eyes of course leader Karl Davis who runs the course at his Feed and Western Wear store. They have found that the location away from the church campus works well in their community and removes obstacles to people coming.
1. We keep looking for ways to make it simpler on the group hosting it:
• Simple meals
• Simple set-up
• Simple program – teach live rather than DVD.
2. Preparation of the meal can be a daunting task. We try to keep it simple: main dish, salad, and dessert. Training in how to do the meal is important.
3. We like the small group idea. While we run the course at a consistent location, each time we run it we ask a different small group in our church to take on the task of hosting. A small group already has an integration of people and it has leadership. Since a small group usually has only one leader, we have to recruit additional leaders to be table hosts (discussion leaders).
4. Some people are concerned with what happens if the guests ask a question that is too difficult to answer. We have found that this is not a problem. The guests are tuned into what is being taught. We only get a few questions that are outside the questions addressed in the lesson.
5. During the meal, it is very important to get to know people on a casual and open basis. Building trust is critical for setting the right atmosphere for the course. We seek to establish a comfort level. Turn people into acquaintances and friends, so that they are no longer strangers.
6. If we had it to do over again, we would introduce Christianity Explored to church members before running it for guests from the community. Some of the hesitancy of being a Christianity Explored host is not being familiar with the course. We have had small groups that have uneasily stepped forward to host the first time, then eagerly sign up to host Christianity Explored a second and even a third time. We think familiarity with the course will make recruiting the host team or small group easier. We would recommend taking people in the church through it first.
7. The participants’ handbook is excellent. It makes it easier to be a table leader. Don’t scrimp on this.
8. The people who come are people that are being drawn to it. Christianity Explored creates a comfortable setting to share good news to people who want to hear it. The invitation is critical. Start early. People need to invite people personally. Better yet, bring your guest with you. We put posters around, but only a small percentage of people come from seeing a poster. Most come from personal invitation.
9. The consistency of doing it twice a year helps. It has become known in our town, outside of our church, that we run Christianity Explored. Now even people from other churches are inviting people to the course.
10. Pastor Ray is the teacher. People hear that and say, “OK, we have the expert here.” With the pastor leading it, it seems more authoritative.
11. We condense it to 1½ hours.
• 30 minutes meal
• 15 minutes explore
• 30 minutes teaching
• 15 minutes discuss
• Coincides with nursery care
12. While the day away is a good thing, we have struggled with attendance at the day away. There tend to be more conflicts with Saturdays for the day away than the normal Wednesday evenings course times. We try to run the day away every time, but once or twice we have skipped it.
Karl Davis said this in conclusion, “This is an excellent course. I would recommend it to any church.”