The Connections Ministry purpose and vision is to connect and engage people to the bridge’s discipleship pathway—our 4 Gs—to gather, group, give and go. We know that when people connect in these ways, they experience the fullness of God’s purposes here at the bridge. They grow in community and spirit and truth.
This is lived out in so many ways through the Connections Ministry and this year was no different even with the big pivot of moving everything online! I was amazed to watch and see how new people continued to connect with the bridge through our online presence, our discipleship groups that were advertised throughout the community and online, and we saw those attending the bridge continue to connect with our online services, ministry teams, groups, and discipleship opportunities.
We started off our ministry year at this time last year working on video trainings for our host ministries, including our auditorium, Hub, atrium and connections teams. This is the way that we were going to orient new team members and continue to equip those already serving on our teams. We were able to film some of those videos before COVID hit and will be ready to use them again once we are meeting in person.
We launched our Serving Snapshot into discipleship pathway, as a way to connect those new to serving to a great first step in volunteering at the bridge.
We also launched our Alpha ministry. This is a multi-week group experience for those exploring the Christian faith or who are new believers. We launched our first one right at the peak of lockdown in the spring and saw 35 people go through Alpha for nine weeks together—many of them new to the bridge. We also had nine new leaders who stepped up in the first session of Alpha to lead the discussion groups. We have since launched another Alpha this Fall and have added another leader!
We had to make some adjustments and pivots to our overall strategy when COVID hit, but it was incredible to watch teams and leaders rally together to connect with each other during lockdown. We had a team of people from our host ministries reach out to those who may be new to the bridge or not as connected. They had a great time of prayer with many of them on the phone and everyone that was reached out to was so thankful for the follow-up.
Our host teams continued AND started new ways to connect with their teams through WhatsApp groups, Facebook groups, monthly devotionals and regular check-ins.
We moved all of our discipleship and next steps to an online format through Zoom including Discover the bridge and Discover Your Purpose. We also set up a Connection Centre through Zoom, where new individuals can meet with myself throughout the week to connect like they would at the Atrium Connection Centre if we were meeting in person. We started a project with the Communications team of putting some of our content online through our LMS program. This way, it is accessible to all at any point that people are ready to connect to a next step. Then, they connect through our connection points. We are continuing that project into this ministry year.
Another big step we took this year, as some of you may have heard through our board report, is that we purchased a new CRM system. This will support the discipleship pathway in a way to ensure efficient and effective follow-up is done, and people continue to feel welcomed, connected to, and given the opportunities to make the right next step in their journey here at the bridge.
We spent the year connecting with all ministries to determine their pathways and processes, so that we can have all our teams, follow-ups, registrations, and other key discipleship steps working together and efficiently. This project is continuing into this ministry year.
It has been an incredible blessing to see people continue to connect and engage at the bridge. We have seen an increase of connections through our online presence AND an increase in engagement through our intentionality of making connections even without in-person moments. I am excited for this coming year and all that we have learned and developed through this past year, and how it will all weave together, as we see all that God continues to do in and through the bridge.