At Grow Ministries we are often talking about being 'relational' in ministry.
We have been known to say things like: 'Prioritise relationships over programs', or 'It's all about the relationships!'
But what do we mean when we say these things? Being 'relational' is one of those terms that has been used so much that its meaning is now very difficult to define.
People first, sharing information second
Being ‘relational’ refers to the decision to prioritise relationships between people above sharing information. A relational leader recognises that any information will not have a lasting impact unless there are strong, authentic relationships established. A relational leader sets out to encourage people in their faith as they grow in relationship with God and others.
The term ‘relational’ also refers to the method by which content is delivered. A traditional model of content delivery involves an expert presenter telling people what they need to know. A relational method still shares content, but also allows space for questions, discussions and creative responses.
Additionally, ‘relational’ refers to the environment. A relational environment is comfortable, welcoming, challenging and safe – both in its physical aesthetic and its ambience. People need to experience and do things together as they explore their faith. There need to be opportunities and space for them to discuss faith and life.
What's a relational approach?
Taking a relational approach to leadership and ministry means that everyone has a place to discuss openly and honestly matters of faith. How are you walking together with others along their faith journey? Author and Lutheran Professor of Youth and Family Ministry Dr Andrew Root says:
The church may have a building, but that is not its place. The building may be the church’s location, but its space is in the shared humanity of its persons.’
Ideas to build relationships
- Find ways for all the generations to spend time together and feel welcome. Perhaps offer an intergenerational Bible study or host an intergenerational lunch with conversation starters.
- Nurture spaces where people can get to know each other and develop meaningful relationships. Offering hospitality through shared meals is a great place to start.
- Provide opportunities for people to share their life and faith stories. This could be both written and spoken, in person or using video.
- Encourage people to check in with each other outside of worship and other church events. This could be through small groups and/or mentoring relationships.
- Look for ways to serve together across generations in your local community.