How to Invite the Broken and Needy into Community


The mission of the church is to invite the broken and needy into a healing community, where they can find or deepen their relationship with Jesus and experience restoration in all aspects of their life. And so, as the pandemic set in, I helped launch a new online class we call Following Jesus (Vibrant Faith also has a small-group curriculum with the same name). We targeted the class for the hungry people who live on the fringes—the people who have a cautious relationship with the church but know they “still haven’t found what they’re looking for” in their life.

From Broken and Needy to Commitment

The first night, just one lady logged on. She politely engaged, but I haven’t seen her since. The next week three people logged on, including Stuart, a divorced and dignified-looking ex-lawyer who’s a recovering alocholic. I learned later that he’d called several churches before ours, asking “test” questions to see how we’d answer. Our receptionist was warm and inviting, so Stuart not only showed up, he showed up hungry to grow. No matter what he shared about his past, we didn’t bat an eye. We just accepted him, laughed with him, prayed with him, and rejoiced with him as he continued to grow.

Four years later, Stu co-leads our Following Jesus class, though he still claims to be “new at this.” He’s still blown away that the vindicative God he grew up believing loves him. Stu continually reinforces what drew him to the class in the first place—a clear invitation to grow in a relationship with Jesus and embrace a biblical worldview, in an accepting environment that offers grace no matter what flies out of your mouth or characterizes your life. Looking back, Stu says, he was drawn to “the honesty and openness to share. Even though I lacked understanding I had a desire to learn about God’s love and forgiveness, and I just felt totally accepted!” We’ve worked hard to cultivate an environment anyone can walk into and not wonder about insiders and outsiders. Of course, we’re not pioneers in nurturing this kind of atmosphere for broken and needy people, but we hope we’re taking a page from the New Testament’s playbook. 

7 ways to invite the broken and needy into community

  • Welcome immediately – We greet and then introduce people as soon as they enter the room. We play it cool so we don’t freak out the shy ones, but we’re intentional.
  • Accept everyone – Acceptance doesn’t mean agreement or approval. Acceptance is treating people like they can belong if they want to; like they’re wanted.
  • Don’t bat an eye – People who attend Following Jesus are either raw and real, or they’re guarded. Either way, we don’t use churchy lingo in the group. Nobody bats an eye no matter what’s said—and we’ve heard some unrepeatable things. It never ceases to move me when someone says: “When I shared (fill in the blank), I thought people would judge me. No one did.” This intentionally non-reactive environment is so normal to us, but many people aren’t used to it.
  • Invite hard questions – When we launched this class our Discipleship Pastor, Paul, made sure that the plan included a pastor or theologically knowledgeable leader always in the mix. The leader’s role is not to give the “right answers,” but to ask the right questions.
  • Ask great questions – We ask questions that get people talking—questions that explore the heart of Jesus and the truths of Scripture more than philosophies and opinions. Our rule of thumb among our rotating discussion leaders is to allow two or three people to answer a question before sharing a thought.
  • Bring it back to Jesus and God’s Word – It is, after all, a class about following Jesus, not proper behavior, parroting the teacher, or comparing head knowledge. We regularly ask, “What does Scripture say?” and “How and why did Jesus teach or model this?”
  • Pray together – We take prayer requests and post them in our church app to pray before we leave, and throughout the week.

Years ago, when I first began attending a young-adult small group, my group leader observed, “People go where they’re loved.” I’ve never forgotten that. When Dave, one of the early-joiners in Following Jesus, died of a medical condition last year, our group was heartbroken. He’d come out of his shell and reconnected deeply with his faith in Jesus. And he’d crack a joke now and then. We all went to his funeral because the aunt who called our church said in the short time (less than a year) Dave attended “some group about following Jesus,” the whole family saw a change in him. He’d been in such a dark place for years prior. “It would mean a lot to the family,” she told me, “to have someone to do the funeral who knew and loved him.” Dave knew he was loved.


If you would like help as you explore what it means to plant a culture of invitation for the broken and needy people and families in your community, reach out to connect with a Vibrant Faith Ministry Leadership Coach. Just CLICK HERE for more information. Coaching is an intentional process that moves you forward into the future you long for.  

Danette Matty is a trained coach in Vibrant Faith’s International Coaching Federation-certified program. She has earned her ACC Level and is currently working toward the PCC Level. Her coaching experience has been honed through full-time vocational ministry at a thriving church in the Midwest. Danette’s coaching and leadership development specialties revolve around volunteer team members, youth leaders, team leaders, and ministry leaders who want to grow. Danette has earned a Bachelors in Biblical Counseling and a Masters in Leadership.




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