Russell St. Bernard is a Reverend at Kingdom Fellowship AME Church. In his four-part series of guest posts for Givelify, he explores positive peer pressure and how the power of physical church can be extremely motivating.
I know many of us have heard and used the term peer pressure. Others and I have often used it on the negative side, saying that it was important for us not to fall to peer pressure. I used this term most when I spoke to students about their friends and not allowing them to make the wrong decisions. We also know that adults can fall to peer pressure and make bad decisions. However, recently I was reminded of how peer pressure could be positive. The actions and thoughts of the people you’re around can be helpful. When I played basketball in school, we were pushed to do what our teammates did as it related to practice and preparation. Much of what we did I wouldn’t do alone, but because my peers were doing it, then I was as well.
The environment matters.
As I look at this previous year and the pandemic, one of the things that I believe the Church missed, those of us that weren’t able to gather in-person, as usual, was positive peer pressure. At our Church, Kingdom Fellowship AME Church, while several hundred people joined our Church and said yes to Jesus Christ during the pandemic, that total number was smaller than average years.
We would typically have several hundred more people make decisions on Sunday morning or during another worship experience. Several of these people didn’t plan to decide when they came to the building, yet because God moved on their hearts and the excitement in the atmosphere, they decided. This is an example of positive peer pressure in the Church, and it is essential. God can move with or without us, and God has moved in this last year and will continue to without others’ influence. However, others’ impact is significant and can be a critical factor in making a decision for Jesus Christ and the Church.
Where is the disconnect?
We should always use positive peer pressure; it’s essential and missed related to having first-time or returning guests in the building for worship.
While people visit online, many don’t complete the form, text the guest number, or raise the hand in the chat to receive the free gift.
They don’t do this because they don’t want to, which has always been the case for many guests in Church. Secondarily, they don’t acknowledge themselves as a guest online because there isn’t someone to look at them and say “Hi, are you new?” or “Hey, welcome I am glad you’re in worship with us today.” This positive peer pressure area is vital because before someone joins your Church and comes more consistently, they have to visit and connect. It also helps when they see others coming to the Church for the first time and the warm welcome they receive.
My point is that as a Church, we need to recognize the value of positive peer pressure and pray for ways to structure our ministries to create these moments so others can connect with Jesus. As shared, our Church saw several people make decisions for Christ online, but we know that there are several hundred others, who during a typical year, would have made the decision. We should be in prayer for them and those around them to encourage them to make a decision for Jesus Christ.