MODULE 5: CONNECTING WITH CHURCHES AND YOUTH
Congratulations you're nearly halfway! In earlier modules you learned about the overall process. Today you are going to learn the in-depth process for starting new groups. Watch this first video and note down the steps involved. Apologies for the speed of this video - it is a draft version that will be slowed down for easier watching.
In Luke 9, Jesus is moved with compassion for the hungry crowd of 5,000. Perhaps there are thousands of vulnerable children in your country. Perhaps you are like the disciples - overwhelmed and wondering how to help!
Jesus' disciples suggest a common solution: “Send them away to find their own food and lodging.” (Luke 9:12). In other words, ‘Let these people fend for themselves. They have two arms and two legs! Let them deal with their own problems.’
For many Christians and churches, when we already have our own problems and concerns, this is also our response to the needs of vulnerable children.
But Jesus asks his disciples to engage with the people and their need: “YOU give them something to eat,” he says directly in Luke 9:13. Yes YOU!
At this point, the disciples are amazed, maybe even a little irritated. The needs are overwhelming and the resources so few: 5,000 men and their families, all hungry!
The disciples respond in the way most of us would. They wonder if they are supposed to get money and go buy enough food for all these hungry people. This is the traditional Charity (NGO) Model. But Jesus wants to take us much deeper than the usual NGO response.
Luckily the disciples realize the limitations of this approach to meet the huge amount of need in front of them. And just as they run out of ideas, Jesus shows them a different way...
Instead, He begins with the resources already available in the community - a small handful of loaves and fish (Luke 9:13). And in this simple act, he includes the poor (and the young!) and what they have to offer as part of the solution. Too often – we overlook the significance of this beautiful act. But it is the key to everything.
Then Jesus prays, inviting God to work. For without God’s Spirit – we are left with merely human effort.
Thirdly, He asks his disciples to organize the people into groups so that they can break bread together.
And the rest is history. A beautiful miracle of sharing and abundance takes place that meets the immediate need and revolutionizes the way the disciples will understand community transformation from that point on.
As you organize young people into groups that will work together to use their small amount of time and energy to serve their community, you are doing what the disciples did that day.
EXTRA VIDEO TEACHING
Finally, this video is not produced by Alongsiders and is aimed at business people. However, it is interesting to understand the 6 scientifically proven factors that affect our brains and lead to people making a decision one way or another. There are some useful lessons for communicating with pastors and young people here, even if not everything is applicable or appropriate for our context. Watch and then read the notes underneath to help you connect the ideas to Alongsiders.
In the video above, there are 6 key factors which lead people to make a positive decision. For us, the most important principle is to be led first and foremost by the Holy Spirit. But sometimes we need to get past people's indifference so they will open to listening what God might be saying. Here is a list of the 6 factors as well as some brief notes on how we might tap into those factors as we communicate the vision of Alongsiders:
- Reciprocity - pastors will be more likely to be open to partnership when they have seen that we are already serving and helping them in other ways. So start with churches you have a relationship with.
- Scarcity - without a sense of urgency, pastors and young people may be slow to commit. People naturally procrastinate, and delay decision-making. Create deadlines (eg. an upcoming camp) to show why they should commit now.
- Authority - ask pastors who know you, or have Alongsiders in their church already, to introduce you to other pastors. This will give you more credibility when approaching new churches.
- Consistency - as you build a relationship with pastors, show how Alongsiders is consistent with the vision and mission of their church - the things they are already committed to, such as discipleship. This may be more persuasive than introducing something new that they have not shown a commitment to in the past (such as reaching poor children).
- Liking - build a strong relationship with pastors and leaders based on common interests and connections.
- Consensus - this may be the most powerful one of all. Pastors are influenced by what God is already doing in other churches. Be sure to tell them about other churches that have already adopted Alongsiders.
Are these factors helpful for your communications with pastors and young people? Which one could you implement immediately to help in your communication efforts? Write your thoughts in the comments section below.