“No One Left Behind”: Seven Steps To Contacting [Practically] Everyone In 3 Weeks 

The phrase “no one left behind” refers to the principle that in combat or dangerous situations, military units should make every effort to ensure that no member of their team is abandoned or left to fall into enemy hands.  

This principle has its origins in ancient warfare, where leaving soldiers behind on a battlefield often meant certain death or capture. However, the modern usage of “leave no one behind” became codified during the 20th century. After World War II, the U.S. military emphasized rescuing any prisoners of war and bringing all military members home, dead or alive. This policy was likely influenced by the Bataan Death March in WWII when thousands of American and Filipino soldiers were forced to march to a prison camp under brutal conditions by the Imperial Japanese Army after the Battle of Bataan. Many captives died along the way and were left where they fell. 

The U.S. military’s commitment to leave no one behind solidified during the Vietnam War. Despite dangers, search and rescue teams made daring raids into enemy territory to retrieve shot-down pilots and stranded service members. “No one left behind” became an important motto to boost troop morale, knowing they would not be abandoned if captured or hurt.  

Today, the ethos to leave no one behind continues to be central to military training and operations. Commanders are expected to take great risks and spare no expense to bring all unit members home, whether living or deceased. This can involve recovering casualties under fire, hostage rescue missions, and negotiating prisoner exchanges. While critics argue this policy sometimes costs more lives, military leaders contend it is essential for loyalty, honor, and morale. 

For every local church, this thought takes on eternal implications. If you keep adequate records of those who attend your church, you have seen the cycles. Those who are part of our ministries, part of the family of God, can be wounded in their battle with the world, the flesh and the devil, and are no longer in church. Who in ministry hasn’t heard someone who used to attend church, “I went through ___________, and no one from the church cared (or called, or helped, etc.).”  

We also consider those who are outside of our church, but in the sphere of influence of those in our church family. They can be reached. Many of them will respond to an invitation to a church event if offered by someone who genuinely cares about them.  How can we motivate our church family to offer that invitation? 

Our purpose is to reclaim those who are drifting, encourage those who are faithful, and connect with those who have not yet become a regular part of our church family. Our vision is to see those rescued who potentially could be left behind. We want to see those who are drifting to be reclaimed; those who are prospects to be reengaged, enrolled in a class and assimilated; as many as possible rescued from sin and made fit for heaven for eternity through salvation in Christ.  

We are currently in the middle of what we are calling our “No One Left Behind” fall emphasis. Our mission is to make personal contact with every person connected to our church in any way – every member of every class, every guest and every prospect. This is setting the bar very high. We raised it even higher when we set out to accomplish this in a three-week time frame. We raised it higher still when we determined personal contact is not a text or a voicemail. It is a personal visit to their home or a phone call where we actually talk to them. 

Throughout the three weeks, we have an over 70% personal contact success rate. This exceeded our expectations and impacted our attendance and altar results ahead of our target Sunday. 

Seven Steps To Contacting [Practically] Everyone In 3 Weeks: It takes a lot of preparation and effort ahead of time to be successful.  

Step 1: Prework for pastors and church staff. Plan a big event Sunday with a dinner after the morning service to use as your invitation tool and target Sunday for “No One Left Behind.” Print up invitation cards to put into everyone’s hands each week for a month and begin promoting this at least 6 weeks before the target Sunday. Pastor should begin preaching using the “no one left behind” idea (maybe a series on the Second Coming of Christ or the Last Days). 

 Step 2: Identify every person connected to your church. Our church categorizes everyone as a class member, prospect or guest. Categorize them into two groups: those you believe need a personal visit and those for whom a phone call will suffice. Divide those numbers by 3 weeks and you get your weekly personal contact goals. Determine how many people will be required to accomplish those goals each week.  

 Step 3: Create a Plan Document for those who will be involved. Start with why we want “no one left behind.” Tell them what can be accomplished. Then explain who it will take and how it can be done.  

 Step 4: Using the Plan Document, Recruit Team Leaders who will recruit others to make the necessary contacts on a weekly basis. Cast a vision for them to see what can be accomplished! For instance, if you need to make 200 personal contacts per week, and 10% (20 people) need personal visits, consider 5 leaders who will enlist others to make 36 phone calls and 4 visits per week. For each leader’s team, it will take 2 visiting teams to make 2 visits, and 6 team members making 6 phone calls to accomplish the weekly goal. This simple example demonstrates 600 personal contacts in just three weeks accomplished by 5 leaders and their teams.  

 Step 5: Enlist Team Members and set attendance goals for target Sunday through a special event such as a “No One Left Behind” enlistment dinner. Team leaders contact prospective team members to sit at their table and hear the proposal together. Cast the same vision that was shared with Team leaders. Help every person to see themselves as part of a successful team making eternal differences in the lives of others. 

 Step 6: Get Reports each week from each Team Leader and share the victories. “We attempted 200 personal contacts and reached 144. That’s a 72% success rate! When have we accomplished that much for the Lord in such a short time?”  

 Step 7: Celebrate on the target Sunday. Thank all those who put in the effort to make the contacts. 

 It is exciting to think about our church being on board to make hundreds of personal touches each week in such an intentional way. We realize it is a big ask for our leaders. I believed when we started, they would rise to the occasion, accept the challenge and fulfill the mission. Our church did. If you catch the vision, I believe your church can reach every person connected to you and reach out to new people as well.