Don't 'drop' your guests: the importance of follow-up after a series ends
Our series are not seven or eight session conveyor belts that either ship unbelievers into the Christian faith – or tip them off into the street outside.
As you come towards the end of a series, it is therefore vital to have a deliberate follow-up strategy in place.
Stay in touch
Having spent eight sessions with your guests, either in person or online, considering profound and personal issues, you will know them well – and they will know you well.
Under these circumstances, it would be wrong to 'drop' them once the series comes to an end. Whatever their response has been, God has not given up on them, and neither should you. Furthermore, if the friends who invited these people along see leaders maintaining a genuine interest in the guests, they will feel more confident about bringing others along in future.
Plan to stay in touch with all the members of your group, and arrange it with your co-leaders so that each group member has at least one leader who remains in touch with him or her.
Give out feedback forms
Feedback forms, given out during the last session of the course, are a great way to challenge course members to think about what they have learnt, and to help leaders plan a way forward once a series has ended.
You can download guest feedback forms from the Leader's Area, or create your own.
If you have co-leaders, it’s worth asking them for feedback too. Ask them what went well, and what could be improved.
Arrange follow up for new believers
If anyone in your group has made a new or renewed commitment to Christ, it’s vital to help them lay firm foundations so that they will be able to persevere.
You should invite them to start coming along to church with you if they’re not already regularly attending. It is often a difficult task to get people into the habit of meeting together regularly on a Sunday, but the concept of a Christian who doesn’t belong to a church is foreign to the New Testament, so help them to take this seriously (Hebrews 10:25).
Introduce them to other Christians and help them to become integrated within the church by joining a Bible-study group and finding an area of service within which they can participate.
Arrange follow-up for those who haven't yet made a commitment
Ask whether they are interested in exploring Christianity further. If they are, one option is to invite them to come back and go through the same series again, or to try another series. Some people have gone through the same series three or more times before they felt ready to make a commitment.
Remember that they will be encountering God's word each time, which will work on their hearts whenever it is opened.
Recommend or give away books
If appropriate for your group member, reading a good Christian book at the right time can be very influential. Think carefully about the books you’ve read and see if any of them would suit particular people. If you’re not an avid reader, ask around for advice about books suitable for people in different situations.
Three paperbacks accompany the Christianity Explored course and would also be suitable for Life Explored: “One life. What’s it all about?”, “If you could ask God one question...” and our latest book "Finding More".
You could also encourage people to spend some time looking at the testimonies and films on the Christianity Explored evangelistic website, which includes an animated gospel summary.
You can download a list of book recommendations for those who have just completed Discipleship Explored in the Leader's Area.
Read the Bible with a group member
Perhaps the best way to follow up after a series ends is to suggest getting together with an individual of the same sex on a regular basis to read through a book of the Bible.
This can be totally informal; just two friends with an open Bible finding out what God’s word has to say to them.
Questions to guide your study could be:
What does the passage mean?
Are there any difficult words or ideas that need special attention?
What does the passage mean in context?
What comes before/after the passage?
Why is the passage placed where it is?
Is it addressed to a specific individual or group of people? Why?
What does the passage mean for us?
What have we learned about God?
How do we apply the passage to our lives?
A supremely Christ-like way of caring for people is to pray for them. Even after the course has ended, it is important to pray for all the members of the group.
For believers, pray for growth, fruitfulness and joy.
For those who have not yet made a commitment, pray that the Lord will have mercy on them and send his Holy Spirit to open their blind eyes.
Pray for yourself, for patience and wisdom as you wait for God’s word to do its work.
What about online courses?
This advice still stands when considering online courses. However, building relationships with guests is more challenging than in-person courses but due to the increased accessibility, some churches will continue to run courses online as well as in person even after restrictions are fully lifted. It’s important to get well connected with people if they are only joining a course online.
Ask them to meet 1-1 and go for a walk or meet for a drink in a cafe.
If they are joining from further away, arrange to have a call just between you two.
Open up the Bible and look more closely at what you were studying in the session that week, it will help open up the opportunity for them to ask deeper questions.
Let us know in the comments below if you have any other suggestions or tips for keeping in touch with people after a series ends.