Church & Culture
4 Steps to a Friendlier Church (The G.I.F.T. Plan)
Genuine friendships are becoming more rare – and thus, of greater perceived value – than any other aspect of modern church life.

Sometimes it's a simple "way to go" to the worship leader. Or an appreciation to a Sunday School teacher for encouraging your child to read their Bible.

Encouragement costs nothing, but is worth a great deal.

ACCOUNTABILITY – The Essential Fifth Step

Every week, at our church leaders meeting, one of the first items on our agenda is always 'Who did you G.I.F.T. this week?'

We go around the room and share stories about who we met, introduced and so on. By doing this, we hold ourselves accountable and we often learn more about church members and guests as we do so. ("Oh yeah, I met her, too. She told me she wants to help in the nursery. Here’s her email.")

We also teach the G.I.F.T. Plan in our discipleship class, including requiring the students to apply it on Sundays and report back to the group.

Since starting the G.I.F.T. Plan, our church members have come more out of their shell, opened their hearts a little wider and met some great new friends along the way.

We don't expect people to do all four steps each week. Most find that they do one or two well, but not the others. And if someone gets busy on a Sunday and misses doing it, there's no guilt attached. But when we ask them to do one a week and report the results, we've found that this simple plan with accountability attached to it makes a big difference.

Imagine a church in which everyone Greeted, Introduced, Followed Up or Thanked someone every week.

It Really Works!

I’m under no delusions that this simple little plan will automatically lead to long and lasting friendships, but imagine a church in which everyone (or every leader and most of the regulars) Greeted, Introduced, Followed Up or Thanked someone every week. It would truly be a GIFT to their guests and to the entire church.

Our church still has a lot to learn about being friendlier. But these steps have been a great starting point.

Just last Sunday, a couple in our church introduced me to someone who had sat near them during the service. We chatted and got to know each other. After the guest left with a wave and a heartfelt "thanks, I'll see you next Sunday!" the couple turned to me and said "we got our 'G' this week!"

To which I responded, “and your 'l' for introducing him to me!”

They smiled. And I believe Jesus did, too.

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