Get Their Name: Grow Your Church by Building Relatinships

Get Their Name: Grow Your Church by Building Relatinships


Are you willing to experiment or are you comfortable in your decline? Most church members know to answer the former, but all too often we live out the latter.  The Rev. Bob Farr’s workshop on Sat. October 25th  at Woodbury UMC is based on his book of the same name, Get Their Name: Grow Your Church by Building Relationships.  In both he has outlined a multi-year process of helping people come to faith as well as a way toward transformation of the way we typically ‘do’ church.

Engaging in Ministry the John Wesley Way

  • Get their name
  • Have a conversation
  • Develop an authentic relationship
  • Prepare to answer the question “Why God?” when your new friend asks.  Do NOT answer about your church. Answer Why God.
  • Once you tell your faith story you are ready to extend an invitation to accompany you to church.

 Rev. Farr bases his process on what he has observed happening in churches. Inwardly focused churches practice evangelism as reconnecting the disconnected.  Outwardly focused churches practice evangelism as connecting the unconnected to Jesus first, and then to the church.

Finding ways to build relationships with people you do not know can be daunting, but as the group of unchurched has grown, inwardly focused churches have failed to effectively extend their evangelistic approach to reach the unchurched.

Building those relationships is not just the pastor’s job.  When someone does come into the sanctuary it’s not their relationship with the system that will make them want to come back; it is the relationship building opportunities with the people in the pews that will make them stay.  The people in the pew need to do follow up.  Both clergy and laity have jobs to do for church growth and they need to respect and support one another as they do their jobs.

As the church works toward transformation Rev. Farr stresses the need to begin thinking of the church building as a missional outpost: thinking of the church building as the space you happen to meet in – not the center of your mission work.

As the church works toward transformation Rev. Farr challenges us to become more relational in our mission; working toward developing relationships as mission work happens.  Rev Farr gave many examples of churches adjusting their approach with mission work they were already engaged in to increase or create opportunities to build relationships. Here are 3:

  • A church held a “Trunk or Treat every Halloween.  The church parking lot was full of members handing out treats from the trunks of their cars to the neighborhood children, and providing a safe place to Trick or Treat.  Since many of the same families from the neighborhood came each year, the church decided they would have a free give away of an iPad.  They collected names and contact information and had the drawing during church the next Sunday.  Afterwards, a note was sent to all the names gathered, thanking the family for coming and letting them know them were personally praying for their family.
  • A church that had a strong relationship with a Habitat for Humanity family followed up and asked 2 simple questions on the phone “Is there anything else we can do to be helpful?”  And ‘Could we pray for you?’
  • A church opened their building for community groups.  The church filled the bulletin boards in each room with information about what the church was doing and had information about each week’s worship service.  A prayer box was placed next to the bulletin board with cards to fill out for prayers.

Worship attendance tells you where you are.
Baptisms (adult and children) and professions of faith tell you where you will be.

Rev. Farr also cautions about inviting people to church. He compares it to inviting strangers to an intimate family gathering.  Such an invitation makes people feel like outsiders at the party.  Before you extend an invitation, develop an authentic relationship so the invitation seems natural and the guests know they can reach out to you if they feel uncomfortable.

Many people believe church should be comfortable.  Bob Farr disagrees. Church isn’t a place to be comfortable; it’s a place where we are pushed to do things we wouldn’t do.  Are you ready to accept the challenge of being uncomfortable in church?