How to Build Relationships with Your People

Dr. Jimmy Draper's relational skills reflect his genuine love for people.

Marvin Owen talked with Dr. Draper about building effective relationships for longer, more fruitful ministries. He shared his personal philosophy of ministry relationships and basic principles for relating effectively to those we serve.

Here's an excerpt of that interview.

"How do you build relationships?"

Use names

First, I remember names. No one likes any word better than his or her own name. Rather than say, "Hi, friend," say "Hi, Marvin." Learn their names. There are ways to remember names. Repeat names two or three times. Try to tie them to something familiar. I ask people I meet, "Where are you from?" The older I get, the more I find a connection somewhere.

Mary and her family joined our church in Euless, Texas, and really latched onto our family. Later she said, "You know what really attracted us to you? We had just begun attending your church one Sunday, and you called my mother by name."

Show kindness

Another way to build relationships is simply to show kindness. I recently saw a former member from my pastorate in Kansas City nearly 40 years ago. He recalled me helping him when I visited him. I didn't remember that, but it was special to him. Find ways to do something personal for people.

I'm a hugger. I love to hug people and welcome them. They sense when you are genuine.

Be aware

Keep abreast of activities in the community. Congratulate parents on their children's accomplishments. Recognize promotions. Remember birthdays. I wrote birthday letters to all my church members until the membership exceeded 2,000. Then I dropped back to writing the deacons and staff.

Touch lives

Find ways to connect with people. When someone travels to another state because of the death of a loved one, I call them on the telephone and pray with them. Many people through the years have commented, "It meant so much when you called."

Another touch point is notes of appreciation. Write to the people who lead in the worship services - prayer, Scripture, music - and thank them for their involvement.

Stay involved

Try to go to the ball games at the local high schools. Attend special events - anything to touch people's lives.

James T. Draper, Jr. served as president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1991 to 2005. Before joining the LifeWay staff, he served as pastor of Southern Baptist churches in Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. He is a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and also served as chairman of trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of more than 20 Christian books and has traveled to 33 countries, leading in evangelistic services and activities, as well as other types of conferences and meetings with missionaries and nationals.

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