Every few months, Calvary Monterey offers a one night “Intro To Calvary” Class. I think it has been an effective tool.
Here, for pastors and church leaders, I will detail the basics of the class. I hope you are helped.
For New People
One obvious target for our Intro class are people who might be new to our church. When welcoming those who are new on Sunday mornings we mention this class. The class serves as a great starting point for those who are considering a new church. Often, these folks have recently moved into the area, are considering a new church, or are just getting back into fellowship.
For New Believers
Another group that benefits from our Intro class are new believers. This class serves as a teaching vehicle for them to learn about the function of the local church. They are able to hear of steps they can take in the maturing of their brand new faith. It also gives them an opportunity to meet the pastors of their new church family. Additionally they'll meet other believers who might aid them as they walk with Christ.
For Long Time Members
Sometimes a person who is already committed to the church will attend. The class can serve as a refresher for them to hear the Vision and Mission of Calvary Monterey. People can attend a church for years without knowing anyone, so for some the class is a chance to become known.
The Intro class also serves our pastors. We get a chance to slow down from the busy pace of larger gatherings, meet people, and get to know them a bit more than we’d be able to on Sunday. It is here we are able to ask questions and get a feel for their lives. It has been a great way to relationally connect with people, better than a quick hello on a Sunday morning.
It has also served us by sharpening our focus. We talk here of what we are and aren’t, so it serves as an excellent reminder of our mission, what we are all about.
We have typically held our Intro class on Monday nights. We've tried Sunday afternoons, but with multiple Sunday services we found that time slot difficult. We have been pleasantly surprised with the turnout for these on Monday nights. For many, coming on a Monday indicates a level of seriousness about their decision.
We hold ours in our restaurant because it is a casual atmosphere. The relaxed vibe helps the relational dynamic are aiming for. We’ve found that an environment like this helps set the desired tone.
The night begins with some light refreshments and small talk. As people arrive, all the pastors walk around the room introducing themselves. We try to learn who people are, their backgrounds. Some people are open, others are more reserved.
The conversations during this time are often incredibly edifying. People know what the class is about, so often they come with a desire to really introduce themselves to you. Not just their name, but their story, what God has done or is doing within them. Often, they have already been blessed by what God is doing at Calvary. It can be refreshing to hear these praise reports.
We follow this time with some more official introductions. After an opening welcome and prayer, each pastor takes the floor for 3-5 minutes. Here, we briefly share our personal testimony and role at Calvary. I always walk away from this time thankful for the team Jesus has assembled for our church family.
This time is helpful because people are often curious about specific ministries. Perhaps they need it. Perhaps they want to serve in it. Now they know who to talk to.
This time is also a great way for the pastors to share their personality and heart with the people. I do the bulk of the Sunday teaching, so the people see me often. This time exposes them to the other pastors. I enjoy having the people know that I do not pastor this church alone.
After giving my own personal testimony and role, I give a brief history of our church. Since I grew up at Calvary Monterey, my testimony and the history of the church are intertwined. This time also serves as an opportunity to tell people about the Calvary Chapel network of churches. People also enjoy hearing about various property acquisitions, building projects, and a timeline of key decisions within the church.
Following this we communicate our Vision (Jesus Famous) and Mission (Honor God, Nurture Believers, Proclaim To The World) in detail. Sometimes this is done via video, but mostly I’ve orally communicated this. I prefer the tighter video presentation by another pastor, because I can easily ramble on and on about it. It seems better for me to simply highlight a few takeaways after the brief video explanation.
Everyone needs to hear this, but this isn’t the pressing thing most people want to hear about. Many church mission statements sound similar (up, in, and out is the usual focus). This might lead to moderate interest from a newcomer. Still, it is important to communicate where you're going as a church. I find that our vision statement — “Jesus Famous” — is the unique portion of this time for people. It seems helpful to unpack that one a bit.
Next I get into some things that make our church unique. I cover various ministry philosophies, doctrinal positions, and cultural expectations in our church.
We are clear during the presentation that we aren’t auditioning, hoping they pick us. We are also clear that we respect their decision making process. We want to communicate the idea that there is a decision to make. During this part of the presentation they may hear something that will help them decide yes or no.
Here are some of the things I talk about during this time:
- Christ Centered
- Expositional Teaching
- Holy Spirit and His Gifts
- Musical Style (and volume)
- Our stance on politics
- Invitations (alter calls)
- Church Government
Again, talking about each one of these elements is our way of saying, “This is who we are. We have made these determinations. Hopefully, these aren’t deal-breakers for you, but if they are, now you know.” This is helpful to everyone involved on a multitude of levels. For instance, no one who has gone to this class will ask us to turn down the volume during worship. Nor will they ask us to put voter guides on everyone’s windshields. We've told them that isn't us.
Following this portion, we wrap up the night with one of the pastors talking about next steps they can take. Throughout the whole night we highlight our next step ministry, small groups. They have likely already attended at least a handful of times on Sundays, so we like to encourage them to get into a small group. This helps them become known by others. This makes the church smaller for them.
We also talk to them about financial giving at Calvary. This is an investment they can make in the kingdom of God. This is the third step, after Sunday attendance and a small group.
Finally, we encourage them to serve. Perhaps they need a season to become healthy. Perhaps life keeps them from engaging in any ongoing ministry. But we encourage them, if appropriate, to help out in the work of the church.
So here are the four marks we offer them for involvement at Calvary:
- Life Group
After sharing this content with them we close the meeting with prayer. We then allow time for personal interaction. We don’t hold a live question and answer at this point. Often, the questions people have are personal. Sometimes a bit of dialogue is necessary just to get to the root of their question or concern. A public forum would not be the place for that.
After about 30 minutes of casual conversation and follow up, the night is done.
I don’t think this is a perfect meeting or the only way to hold a meeting like this. But what I do hear quite often is thankfulness that we’ve even had the meeting. It seems quite helpful to the people, and I know it has been helpful for our church leadership.