Practical Considerations

4. Plan to Connect With Them

Talk to them.
Talk with them. Greet them. Make them feel loved, liked, and welcome in the fellowship. Be careful not to suffocate them. Give them space. Don't be obcessive. They don't belong to you!

Encouragement Cards
An encouragement card is a wonderful little tool. It's key ingredient is its simplicity, it is personal, it is you. Usually it is nothing more than a 3x5 card put in an envelope or handed to an individual. It is not commercially made. On it you write some personal word of encouragement, a compliment, a verse of Scripture, or just to say you have been thinking of them and praying for them.

Verbal Bouquet
I have been practicing the verbal card. Whenever I have had a particular burden for someone during the week when I see them on Sunday I tell them so. The reaction is varied but more often than not they say, "Wow! I appreciate that. I was having some difficult moments this week. Thank you!"

Birthday Cards
Birthdays and Anniversaries are important to a lot of people even if they aren't to you personally. I get a card from the President of our denomination, and the President of some colleges, but they are always and obviously prepared in bulk an impersonal. I have determined never to send such a card that contains only my signature. It try to send a personal note to each individual on their birthday or anniversary.

Humorous Items
People like to laugh. Life is often too serious for many of God's people. So lighten up! Laugh a little. You don't have to be serious all the time.

Use it sparingly. We all know people who can bend your ear about nothing at all for an hour. You know how uncomfortable that makes you (how do you hang up graciously?). For shepherding use it when you know a family member is in the hospital, when there is a notable event in their lives (won the Nobel Peace Prize), or when you haven't seen them in church for two or three weeks. A simple phone call may be all to takes to avoid make a wandering sheep feel loved and wanted. (P.S. Telephones are easier for women than for most men.) Use it sparingly!

One of the banes of our electronic communication is the "forward to..." button on your e-mail. If you love someone - DON'T!!! If something is worth sharing share it personally. NEVER forward already forwarded junk mail. It may be cute, informative, or even urgent, but come on, we can only receive so many forwards without reaching overload. If you have to forward something at the very least "cut and past it into your own e-mail message without the annoying "<" preceding each line. Communicate person to person!

E-cards Are Fun
E-cards are fun but don't overdo it. For humorous cards try or you might want to consider some more serious encouraging electronic cards.