In the early ’00s, as cell phones were becoming commonplace, I switched from printing off directions for long road trips to calling my wife on my mobile. She loved this process as you could imagine (please read that with extreme sarcasm). Imagine me driving through some significant traffic in a major city listing off all the options of which way to proceed and her trying to, in real time, help me navigate effectively. It was a total mess. One trip, in particular, comes to mind when I think of this pre-GPS era of my life. (Safety tip, don’t drive distracted!)
I was traveling through Dallas, Texas, heading to Austin, Texas. As I made my way south, I noticed there were several options from which to choose. One big choice was to go directly through the city or to travel around it in hopes that I would avoid major traffic. As someone who had never lived in Dallas, I didn’t realize at the time that there is no such thing as avoiding major traffic regardless of the route I chose. But, hopes high, I picked up my phone and called my wife for directions through the now looming spaghetti mixer.
My wife said hello, but I didn’t even reply before telling her where I was and where I was hoping to go. She immediately realized that the carefully prepared printed MapQuest directions she had provided to me before the trip were irrelevant. I had taken an onramp to a series of fly-overs that were confusing, and I needed to know what my next choice of highway was or else I would be lost. Rather than scold me for ignoring the prepared MapQuest data, she asked for more specifics on what my options were and entered it into her laptop. Just as I was about to decide at random between two highways, she told me the correct path to Austin, and I veered quickly onto that route.
Through my wife’s quick action and willingness to put up with my terrible driving habits and failure to navigate, I made it to my destination. I may have left out the part where we had a candid conversation about these issues; after all, I did have that phone and plenty of time to talk. Let’s just say I tried to improve on my next series of road trips.
Navigating major roadways can be tough no matter how you try to do it, even if you know the area. Navigating major ministry opportunities can present the same challenges for our churches. Days like Easter will present opportunities that we must navigate. A couple of key questions come to mind: Will we be prepared to take the journey and will we arrive at the desired destination? Too often we navigate days like Easter the same way I tried to make it through Dallas. Our ministry is speeding along, we know the general lay of the land, but instead of following a clear path, we fly by the seat of our pants, reacting rather than responding. Reacting to the situation means picking a lane and steering into it in the moment. Responding to a situation means being prepared to go the route that will be most effective. To respond rather than react, we must clarify a few things before Easter arrives.
This week lets focus on clarifying the onramps. In many ways, Easter itself is an onramp. More people will attend the church than the rest of the year. Likely, you will have more visitors on Easter. By attending on Easter, people may choose to stay and continue attending your church.
Additionally, inconsistent attendees may decide to be more consistent. These are both great opportunities, but we should not stop there to be most effective. Onramps are ongoing processes or programs that help people connect. Easter is an onramp for people to the church. But what about onramps that lead to specific ministry? What about an onramp that moves people to join the church, get involved in biblical community, join a group, or even serve or give? Each of these elements, along with everything else that happens in your church needs an onramp. Ask yourself, and discuss with your team, how you can create clear onramps to every facet of your ministry this Easter. Will the kid’s ministry programming be an onramp for families to connect and serve? Will the invitation provide an onramp for people to join, connect to groups, and find a place to minister? Will people understand the clear next step they need to take when the service is over? Without a destination, you will never arrive. Pray about it, plan for it, and provide onramps that will help people connect this Easter.
Originally posted here. Used by permission.
By Chris Swain from Replicate.
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