I love puzzles of any kind, so my daughter recently introduced me to a very fun game app called Unblock Me. It’s identical to the (non-electronic) puzzle/game called Rush Hour, where you have to shift pieces around within a grid in order to open up a passageway for the red car to “exit”. It’s a simple concept with a clear goal, but the trick is to identify the key piece that needs to change position in order to open up the “route” for the red piece. If you can identify that key piece and move it into position, then you can solve the puzzle with the fewest number of moves; if not, then you’ll spend a lot of time randomly shifting pieces around.
Enfolding Ministries at Evergreen SGV has a clear goal too: to enfold believers deeper into the community and ministry of the church so that they will grow toward maturity in Christ. That’s the goal—maturity-enhancing connectedness. But just like Unblock Me, we could have a bunch of movement (i.e. ministry) happening but if we fail to identify key people who need to be connected, we cannot accomplish our goal. So identifying people who need to be connected is the vital first step in the Enfolding process.
How do we identify those key people who need to be connected? Pay attention! As a father and as a teacher, I am constantly saying to someone: “Pay attention!” But it’s not just kids who have a hard time paying attention…we as adults do too. We live in a distracted, busy, instagram world, and thus we may find it hard to truly be present to the people and situations around us. So in order to pay attention you may need to do something radical like go on a “phone fast” and not look at your phone for the 2-3 hours that you’re at church. Then use the time that usually would be spent checking your phone to pay attention to the people around you. It’s fairly easy to spot someone who doesn’t seem to know where to go or doesn’t have anyone to talk with—and those are pretty big clues that he or she isn’t very connected in our church.
But don’t stop with merely making a mental note: “Hmmm, that person must be new to our church.” Take initiative! Go and introduce yourself. Ask if they need help finding some place on campus. Find out how they heard about Evergreen SGV and if they know anyone in our church. Introduce them to the friends that you’re hanging out with. Invite them in to your little circle of conversation. Take initiative to show hospitality.
Apart from identifying people who need to be connected, our goal of enfolding people into the community and ministry of the church can never happen—identifying is the crucial first step in the process. So pay attention! And then take initiative to welcome.