12 Steps to Start Extending Sunday School Class Invitations, Part 1

Monday 24th April, 2017
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How do you move scared and apathetic class members toward inviting lost and unenrolled people to Sunday School? My two word answer is patient leadership. Are you willing to lead your class? Are you willing to do so patiently? If so, I want to offer you twelve steps which work. In Part 1, we will examine the first six steps.

STEP ONE:  Pray. You pray first and then lead your class to pray. Pray together for at least a month prior to taking step two. Pray for the people group of your class. Lead the class each to pray for 3 lost people by name. Pray for identifying, reaching out, caring, sharing with, and enrolling people. Pray for their salvation.

STEP TWO:  Develop a prospect care list. Pray. Ask for names of FRANs: friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors who are in the people group assignment for your class. Determine a plan for making regular contacts (2-4 times per month for each person). Focusing on the top 5 or 10 may make your group more intentional.

STEP THREE:  Plan a fellowship or project. Gather a planning team. Pray. Keep in mind the goal of inviting prospects. Make the event fun and easy to get acquainted. Communicate the plan to the class, including the goal to invite FRANs. Teacher announces that his/her prospect will attend.

STEP FOUR:  Make phone calls/visits. Pray before making contacts. During calls/visits: introduce yourself, your class, and your church. Then invite them to the fellowship/project. Offer transportation. Ask how you can pray for them and their family. Then pray together.

STEP FIVE:  Send electronic reminders. Pray before making contacts. Send last-minute reminders inviting them to the fellowship or project. Include date, time, place, and your offer of transportation. Mention your class name and church.

STEP SIX:  Conduct the fellowship/project. Pray before anyone arrives. Welcome all guests but introduce them privately. Ask members to pay special attention to their guests. Before the fellowship/project ends, the teacher thanks and invites everyone to class. Members follow up with their guests quickly.

In Part 2, we will look at the next six steps that continue to build on these important early efforts. The next six help to build the culture and structure for this effort to continue past the fellowship or project. Keep in mind that a class that stops inviting is planning to die. Lead. Pray. Invite. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!

For more ideas about reaching out, check out these posts:

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Congratulations to Disciple-Making Encounters Book Giveaway Winners

Wednesday 19th April, 2017
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On February 20, I launched a giveway for blog readers of my new book, Disciple-Making Encounters: Revolutionary Sunday School. The book is set to be released by Amazon.com, Aneko Press, and others on May 1. The deadline to enter was March 31.

So I want to announce the winners:
  • Al Magness
  • Ron Shepherd
  • Sandy Kiper
  • Lewis Frizzell
  • Eloise Walters
  • Richard Nations
  • Jon Sutton
  • Linda Crawford
  • Cheri Farmer
  • Ben Jennings
  • Judy Williams
  • Bobby Bragg
  • Cleveland King
  • Ralph Wood
  • Chris Fowler
  • Tony Jones
  • Dwight Moss
  • Beau Carpenter
  • Beau Bredow

Books have been shipped. Thanks for entering the giveaway. May God use the book to rekindle your relationship with Him as you lead others toward the same goal in your Sunday School.

Let me know what you like about the book. Share with me any adjustments the book leads you to make in your preparation and presentation of Bible study. After May 1, I would like to see lots of reviews on Amazon.com.

If you would like to preorder the book, Aneko Press offers Disciple-Making Encounters: Revolutionary Sunday School for $10.49. For a case of the books at an even lower cost, contact Jeremiah Zeiset at Aneko Press. Amazon offers the print version of Disciple-Making Encounters for $14.99 or the Kindle version for $5.99.

Give God and His people your best effort. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!

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Sunday School Class Help: 4 Chair Discipling Event

Tuesday 11th April, 2017
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I want to invite you and your class team to meet and hear Dann Spader as he talks about his book, 4 Chair Discipling: Growing a Movement of Disciple-Makers. He will be live at the Kentucky Baptist Convention (Louisville, KY) and webcast to Paducah, Lexington, and Bowling Green (see addresses below). All locations will be able to ask Dann questions.

How does someone go from seeking truth about Jesus to knowing Him and making disciples in His name. The Discipleship Network of Kentucky and I would like to invite you and your class team to join us on April 20 to hear a simple process of moving people through four chairs.

  • WHEN: Thursday, April 20, 10:00-Noon (Eastern time).
  • WHO:  Dann Spader, author, disciple-maker, founder of Sonlife Ministries
  • WHAT:  4 Chair Discipling: Growing a Movement of Disciple-Makers (Dann will share about this book).
  • WHERE:  Live at the Kentucky Baptist Convention, 13420 Eastpoint Centre Dr, Louisville, KY
  • WHERE:  Webcast to three locations: First Baptist Church, 2890 Broadway St, Paducah, KY; Immanuel Baptist Church, 3100 Tates Creek, Rd, Lexington, KY; and First Baptist Church, 621 E. 12th St, Bowling Green, KY
  • COST:  $15 per person, includes a copy of his book
  • WHO SHOULD ATTEND:  pastors, associate pastors, Sunday School directors, adult and youth class teachers and leaders, and individuals with a passion for disciple-making
REGISTRATION.  Register now at www.kybaptist.org/4chair.

QUESTIONS.  If you have questions, contact me at darryl.wilson@kybaptist.org or Ron Moore, president of the Discipleship Network of Kentucky, at ronm@littleflock.com.

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Sunday School Preparation: Seeking God in the First Encounter

Monday 10th April, 2017
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In the first sentence of chapter 4 of my book (released May 1), Disciple-Making Encounters: Revolutionary Sunday School, I wrote:

The first encounter is meeting with God before meeting with His people and being prepared to lead them where He has spoken.

What do you do to hear from God before you prepare a lesson? Listening to Him is absolutely essential if we are to serve as His guides during the Bible study time on Sunday. How can we guide people where we have not been?

The power for changed lives comes from Him--not from us or from our efforts. That is as true for the teacher as it for those in our classes. For us as teachers to serve as His guides, we must meet Him and be changed BEFORE we lead others to do the same. In fact, for the teacher, time with God is the lesson.

In order for the teacher personally to encounter God in Bible study, the teacher must begin preparation early. I suggest reading the scripture several times on Sunday afternoon. Then continue to do the same daily throughout the week. Listen to Him about yourself first before beginning to put together a plan for leading the Bible study experience.

I would love to hear what you do to meet God in Bible study. Press Comments and share what helps you. For me, I have four simple steps:
  • Bible Study. I read and study the passage asking two questions. First, what did God say in this passage? (I am looking for the point being made to the original audience.) Second, what is He saying to me? (I am listening for the personal message.)
  • Prayer. Too often we separate two halves of a conversation with God. When He speaks (Bible study), He expects a response. That is our opportunity for talk to God. That means asking this question: What is my response to what God has said in His Word?
  • Commitment. God desires more in response to an encounter than simply head knowledge. He desires commitment. He desires commitment to His will and His way. That leads to two questions: First, am I willing to do what He wants me to do? Second, what does He want me to do? Don't get the order of these questions confused.
  • Obedience. To know and not do is to sin. When we meet God in Bible study, God desires life change. Obedience is more than going through Pharisaical actions. It is desiring to please God with our actions and life--out of love rather than guilt. Here we ask ourselves: What did I do as a result of what God said? This requires follow up. A journal or an accountability partner can help here.

Evaluate your encounter with God in Bible study. What would you add? Which of these four steps are missing or need attention? Make disciples. Encounter God. Be revolutionary!

For more ideas about preparation for disciple-making teaching, check these posts:

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Disciple-Making Encounters: Revolutionary Sunday School

Monday 27th March, 2017
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ABOUT ME. I have been teaching, working with, and leading Sunday School since I was 19. I had the great privilege of serving on the staff of five great churches in Kentucky and South Carolina. For the last twenty years, it has been my joy to observe, consult with, and train leaders from 2,400 churches in Kentucky. Those experiences have enriched my life and my understanding of Sunday School. In addition, over the last eleven years, I have blogged about Sunday School in more than 1,250 posts. Those rich experiences have contributed much to my thinking and writing and have led to the writing of my book, Disciple-Making Encounters: Revolutionary Sunday School.

. Disciple-Making Encounters will be released on May 1. This is a book about the much needed change in how we prepare for Sunday School and the way we lead class time. The book focuses on two encounters: the teacher encountering God in His Word while preparing the lesson and the teacher leading the class to encounter God in His Word during class. These two encounters are life-impacting and disciple-making.

The book's chapters lead the reader through encounter, preparation, and presentation basics. They include the following:
PART ONE: The First Encounter

1.        Neglect of the First Encounter
2.        God's Word and the First Encounter
3.        Your Example Matters
4.        Seeking God in the First Encounter
PART TWO: Preparation from the First Encounter
1.        Revolutionary Preparation Essentials
2.        Planning the Second Encounter
3.        Planning for Increased Interest and Retention
4.        Second Encounter Learning Space
PART THREE: Second Encounter Early Moments
1.        Neglect of Opening Moments
2.        God's Word on Teaching
3.        Early Moment Opportunities
4.        Facilitate a Second Encounter
PART FOUR: Second Encounter Middle Moments
1.        Neglect of Second Encounter Middle Moments
2.        Transformational Second Encounter Middle Moments
3.        Second Encounter Middle Moment Challenges
PART FIVE: Second Encounter Closing Moments
1.        Neglect of Second Encounter Closing Moments
2.        Application Steps in the Closing Moments
3.        Change Practices in the Closing Moments
4.        Continue the Second Encounter

God and His people deserve our best efforts in preparing for and leading Bible study sessions. Since it is God who has the power to change lives, encounters are needed more than lessons. Our Lord calls us to be His disciples. Following Him requires relationship, time spent together, and obedience. Sunday School encounters with God in His Word can change us and the world!

If you would like to hear more about Disciple-Making Encounters, there are several things you can do.
  • Discuss. First, secure copies of the book. Gather a team to read and discuss it. I will be working on leadership material (PowerPoint presentations and handouts) to support your efforts. I already have a two-hour overview prepared (which I will gladly share), but I also want to work back through each of the five parts of the book.
  • Contact Me. If you would like me to share in person with your church, association, group, or event, contact me at darryl.wilson@kybaptist.org or 502.489.3341. We can even set up web conferences if that is more convenient.
  • Comment. Respond to this post by pressing Comments. Ask questions. Make comments. Let's start a conversation right here, right now. Your questions and comments can help others as we talk together.
  • Set up an Event. Study my book. Add to your expertise. Then share my passion and yours by setting up an event to train even more Sunday School leaders.

In all you do, make disciples. Be revolutionary! For more ideas about teaching, check out these posts:

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Making Great Sunday School First Impressions

Monday 20th March, 2017
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If you want to create a great first impression, there are three questions you need to ask: Are you expecting guests? Have you invited them? Are you ready for them to come?

These are three critical questions. Sadly I have spoken to teachers who told me that they did not want new people to come to their classes. Thankfully that is not true of the majority of teachers. At the same time, many classes lack expectancy. They really don't think anyone new will come.

Expectancy begins with prayer and hope. Classes pray believing that God wants new people to come. There is an expectation every Sunday that someone new will walk in the door and join the Bible study experience. As a result, that expectation leads to actions of invitation and preparation.

Because the teacher and class expect guests to attend, they invite friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors. These classes put together a prospect care list from which they make contacts with unenrolled people who would fit their class people group.

Relationships are developed with these prospects by extending care. Expectancy leads to contacts made by visit, phone, mail, and electronic means. Prospects are invited to class fellowships, projects, meals, Sunday School, and Jesus. When needs are discovered, the individual or the class responds in care to address needs.

Because the class expects guests and has invited prospects, they prepare for them to come. Greeters arrive early. Name tags are used. Registration forms are available. Prime seating is waiting. The teacher has prepared a great Bible study encounter. The class has worked hard to ensure the room and equipment will create a good impression.

During class, the greeter introduces the guest without embarrassing him/her. The teacher works hard to explain the lesson in a way that everyone can understand even if they are lost--since we may not know the spiritual condition of the guest yet. The teacher works to involve everyone without asking the guest to do any public speaking (read or answering questions). At the end of class, the greeter encourages the class to thank the guest for being part of the Bible study session.

Go back to the three questions at the start of this post. On which of the questions do you need to work? Start now. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!

For more ideas about reaching prospects, check out these posts:

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When Do You Start Preparing for Sunday School?

Monday 13th March, 2017
I have seen some good "Saturday night" specials and I have seen some flat ones. Sadly, most lacked intentionality and Holy Spirit inspiration. In order to give God and His people our best effort, we need to establish lesson preparation discipline.
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Life is busy. In my experience, life has a way of filling up all our allotted time plus some. What do I mean? If you do not establish a consistent routine for lesson preparation, you will find many great things to do besides preparing for a great Sunday School experience. This means in most cases that we will wait until the pressure is the greatest: Saturday night.

I have seen some good "Saturday night" specials and I have seen some flat ones. Sadly, most lacked intentionality and Holy Spirit inspiration. In order to give God and His people our best effort, we need to establish lesson preparation discipline.

I recommend spending at least 30 minutes every day preparing. The first thing that needs preparing is your own heart. I call this the first encounter. You need to meet God in Bible study and be changed from that time with Him. You need to respond in commitment and obedience as a result. Out of that encounter, you can then prepare a plan for your class similarly to open God's Word and meet Him. That is the second encounter for you (ideally for them as well if they sought him during the week).

My 30 minutes daily on Sunday through Wednesday is often focused on God and on me as I listen and respond to him in Bible study and prayer. I read the word many times each day. I ask Him questions and write down questions. And I look for life illustrations He often provides.

Then Thursday through Saturday, I begin to consider the message for life today and for the learners in my group. I begin to look at commentaries to broaden my understanding of the biblical context, words, and customs. I start building a written plan for leading my class to encounter God in Bible study. Saturday may be longer as I finish and review my plan for the next day.

What is your preparation routine? What have you done to develop lesson preparation discipline? When do you start? What time of day works best for you? What tools do you use? What do you do when you have interruptions into your preparation plans? Make disciples. Be revolutionary!

For more ideas about lesson preparation, check out these posts:

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Sunday School: Dangers from Covering Too Few or Too Many Verses

Monday 6th March, 2017
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I have been teaching Sunday School since I was 19. I started teaching a class for Grades 7-9 boys. I learned so much from preparing and teaching those boys. I learned much about myself, teenagers, God, and the Bible.

Over these last twenty years, I have been in many adult classes as an attender. I have had a variety of experiences. Some were great, some where good, and some were poor. Next time, I will share what makes a poor experience for me. But this time I want to focus on the results of covering too few or too many verses.

TOO FEW VERSES. There are many dangers that come related to covering too few verses. Consider the following:
  • The verse(s) is taken out of the context of the larger passage (others that follow start here).
  • The verse(s) is not understood.
  • The point (truth) of the verse or passage is missed.
  • This may be evidence of poor time management during class (other activities took up too much time).
  • This may be evidence of poor teacher preparation.
  • This may be evidence of poor class management (allowing too much time for chasing rabbits).
  • Without the Bible being opened, the power for God to change lives through Bible study was lost.

TOO MANY VERSES. Similarly, there are dangers from trying to cover too many verses. Consider the following:
  • There is too much time spent covering background, words, and culture (some of this is important for understanding, but too much usually limits application).
  • Multiple points (truths) are covered weakening the likelihood that any will be remembered, applied, or obeyed.
  • In the rush to cover so many verses, understanding does not happen (fire-hydrant syndrome).
  • Learning style preferences are ignored in favor of lecture in order to cover more verses.
  • Learner involvement is minimized resulting in lower understanding, ownership, and application of the truth.

How many verses are the right number? That completely depends on the group, the amount of time you have, and the passage itself. Do your best to prepare well. Part of that preparation is determining how much can be covered in the time you have with your class. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!

For more ideas about teaching, check out these posts:

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Leading My Sunday School Class to Reach Out

Monday 27th February, 2017
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STEP ONE:  Our Lord was concerned for lost sheep. In Luke 19:10, Jesus said, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." And in Matthew 28:19, He calls us as His disciples to "make disciples of all nations." As leaders, we must be convinced before we can lead others. But when we are convinced, then we must help class members understand why reaching out is important.

If class members do not follow, then we are not leading. In order for them to follow, our explanation must be logical and biblical. And we must be trustworthy and be setting an example in reaching out. Ideally, we need to lead class members to examine the issue and need personally. Jesus did that with great success by telling stories and asking questions. In fact, I would encourage you to use some of Jesus' very own stories in your effort to lead your class to reach out. For instance, you might consider using the three stories in Luke 15.

STEP TWO:  Pray together for lost and unreached people. Move from broad to specific in your prayer. Move them toward praying for people by name.

STEP THREE:  Provide simple instructions (training) for taking the first steps. Keep things simple. Complicated kills motivation.

STEP FOUR:  Make contacts together. Write cards. Make phone calls. Make visits. Make electronic contacts. Some examples could include the following. Write cards on Sunday. Meet at church to make calls on a Monday. Go make visits on a Tuesday. Challenge the class to make electronic contacts on Thursday. Never reach out alone. Together is encouraging and more fun.

STEP FIVE:  Follow up on contact efforts. Ask how the contacts went. Share the stories.

STEP SIX;  Invite lost and unreached people to your class fellowships, projects, and meals. Have fun. Talk. Listen. Allow guests get to know you and your class. Pay attention to your guests but avoid embarrassing them. Invite them to class before they depart.

STEP SEVEN:  Lead your class to write, practice, and share their testimonies. Give 5-10 minutes of class time once per month to do so in pairs. Send them out to practice on family. Then send them out to share with lost and unreached people as the Spirit leads during contacts.

STEP EIGHT:  Set class goals for reaching out. Set a goal for contacts. Set a goal for guests at fellowship, projects, and meals. Set a goal for guests in class. Set a goal for new class members.

For more ideas about reaching out, check out these posts:

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Giveaway of My Upcoming Book

Monday 20th February, 2017
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My upcoming book, Disciple-Making Encounters: Revolutionary Sunday School, is set to release on May 1. Because loyal readers of this blog have encouraged me to write the book, I want to give away ten (10 ) advanced copies. Want one? Here are the rules:
  • Due to the cost of postage, you must live in the United States.
  • Comment to this post by March 31, 2017.
  • Tell me the name of your church.
  • Tell me how long you have worked with Sunday School.
  • Tell me your favorite thing about Sunday School.

It is that simple. I will randomly choose ten winners from all those who reply to this post with the three requested responses. I have already pre-ordered books. I will email you to request a mailing address as soon as my copies arrive.

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