Call & Response: A Strategy to Intentionally Develop Faith


November 30, 2014

By Charity Goodwin-Rosario

One of our best opportunities to intentionally develop faith is maximizing the Sunday worship experience by inviting the congregation to respond in worship and beyond worship into one’s daily life. Intentional faith development is like call and response. The Word calls out to us in worship through the singing, preaching, scripture reading, and prayer. 
    
Upon hearing the word we respond with either action or inaction. As we grow in faith, our response may be but a whisper at first, however it becomes louder as shouts and proclamations that are translated into the daily practices of our lives. Here are some ways to respond within worship and beyond worship into daily life.

Responses Within Worship

Invitation to Discipleship
We invite those present to respond to the grace of God already at work in their lives. Allow people to accept that invitation in more than one way such as coming forward, indicating on a card that they accept Jesus Christ (then follow up with them, promptly), or even more casual – informing a designated person (pastor or lay).

Altar Call/Prayer
So much goes on in the hearts of the people after a message: everything from confirmation to conviction. Offering a time of prayer seals the word into a person’s heart. This lingering time in The Presence, I believe, gives space for the word to begin to take shape into action. 

Calls to Action/Challenges
At the end of the message direct challenges or calls to action can be given. Here are some examples: 
  1. Reread the scripture from today and pray its lessons become part of your life.
  2. Complete this sentence: In light of this, I will _______.
  3. Use your Growth Guide. (This is a daily scripture, one-line reflection and short prayer related to the message’s theme. It find on a half sheet of paper. It can be created by a host of people within a congregation).
With these challenges people are encouraged to try at least one of them during the upcoming week.

Responses Beyond Worship

To be clear, the calls to action are given in worship but lived out beyond. Of course, one can complete them individually or within a group.    
    
The benefit of being part of a small group or class lends itself to further exploration and application of the Word. However, starting groups from scratch can be overwhelming and exhausting. One potentially non-threatening starting point is gathering folks for food (transformation often happens at the table) and engaging the calls to action from the previous Sunday. These are not permanent groups, rather a come-as-you-will. Having two steady people help to facilitate the group is good. Further, the facilitators’ commitment is short-term as in the duration of a message series that interest them.
    
Lastly, existing groups whether Sunday School or breakfast gathering groups are ideal for incorporating the same kind of strategy expounded on above. These groups may go deeper faster due to the strength and longevity 
of relationships.
    
While it is important to create the discipleship path and be intentional about starting or improving groups be encouraged that worship can be the foundation of one growing in his/her faith when they are 1. Invited 2. Called to action 3. Prayed for/over and 4. Part of a group. Every week we gather in worship to hear God’s call. Let us create opportunities for people to respond.

Resources
  • Activate: An Entirely New Approach to Groups by Nelson Searcy and Kerrick Thomas
  • Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend by Andy Stanley
  • Simple Church: Returning to God’s Process for Making Disciples by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger
  • Leading Life-Changing Small Groups by Bill Donahue