I am attending the Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis today. I have seen so many people from Kentucky in the short time I have been here. I enjoyed a delightful conversation over lunch with a Kentucky pastor. In fact, he asked me a question about a Sunday School resource that apparently set off my passion button for Sunday School.
One of the questions he asked was whether the Growth Spiral still works (check out Sunday School Growth Spiral). I told him that there are basics for Sunday School growth that have not changed over the years. Contacts, enrollment, visitation, planning, training, and more are essential for growth just as they were when Andy Anderson was conducting his research and writing his book.
One of those essentials is starting new units (new classes and small groups). There are lots of excuses not to start new classes: (1) we have plenty of room in our current classes; (2) we don't have any new teachers; (3) we don't have space; (4) don't take my members; (5) it would require work; and lots more.
But pursuit of the Great Commission demands that we look for reasons or excuses to start classes rather than excuses not to do so. That's why I like Mark Howell's article entitled How to Use Father's Day to Launch Small Groups. In the article, Howell offers a strategy for launching groups on Father's Day, but I want to challenge you to think about any other special occasion in the life of your church. Find as many excuses as possible to launch one or more new groups. Many of these new groups will thrive!
Here are the first five of Howell's six steps in his strategy in all capitals followed by my commentary:
- MAKE A DECISION. Many ideas fail to take off because no decision is made. Decide what kind of groups you want to start and when. Enlist leaders and choose a meeting place.
- CHOOSE A...CURRICULUM FOR YOUR NEW GROUPS. This helps to relieve one of the decisions that must be made in launching a new group. Choose one that is not complicated and that has a relevant topic, teaching methodology, or plan.
- START PROMOTING THE OPPORTUNITY A WEEK BEFORE FATHER'S DAY. Allow the teacher/facilitator to do private enlistment in advance of the start of the promotion by a week or two. Promote in your service and/or bulletin insert. Provide a form and/or place to register for the new classes. This could also happen prior to Mother's Day, Independence Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day, or any other special occasion. Launch men's groups around Father's Day. Launch women's groups around Mother's Day. Launch military groups around Memorial Day.
- ON FATHER'S DAY, CONTINUE YOUR PROMOTION OF THE EVENT BUT ADD DETAIL. Introduce the teacher(s). Do a quick interview in front of the congregation. Provide additional information at a staffed registration desk. Emphasize the importance of being in a class or small group. Insert a registration card in the pews or bulletins and ask them to complete the cards and drop them in the offering place. Announce next week's beginning of the new class(es) or group(s), leaders, and locations.
- SEND OUT REMINDERS. Combine personal invitations, pulpit invitations, and print invitations. Contact all church members not enrolled in Sunday School and all prospects who are in the age group of the new class(es) or group(s). Ask church and Sunday School members to invite prospects and/or submit prospect names for invitations. Enlist a group of will ing volunteers who will call all church and community prospects for the new unit(s) during the week prior to the new start.
For additional information about starting new groups, check out the following blog posts:
Can you put plans together for a new launch before Father's Day? What is the next special occasion coming up? What group could you start? Who could lead it? Where could the group meet? Who could you meet? People are waiting to be invited . People are dying without Jesus. Don't wait too long. Pray. Make a decision. Choose curriculum. Start promoting. Add detail. Send out reminders. Launch the group. Allow God to lead and bless. Be revolutionary!