Pastors, Directors, and Teachers Can Lead Their Sunday Schools to Double

Wednesday 7th November, 2007

Josh Hunt's most recent free e-newsletter is entitled How to Influence, Part 2. You can sign up by pressing the link to receive that newsletter and future editions! In the article, he talks about influence to change/motivation. He moves on to apply this to teachers doubling their classes.

Here is what Josh said (check out the newsletter for the complete text):

He must want to double. He must see that it is in his best interest to double. People often say to me in response to my talks, "I don't know if we want to double our classes; we are happy the way we are." I want to ask in response, "Do you think your happiness will go up or down if you embrace this vision?" I ask this because I have known hundreds of teachers that have actually doubled their classes. Here is the dirty little secret: doubling teachers are happier than non-doubling teachers. It is absolutely in your best interest to double your class in two years or less. One teacher described his doubling class as the single most exhilarating thing in his life. He is the CEO of his own company. Has a nice home, nice family, nice job, nice car, but the single most exhilarating thing in his life is his Sunday School class. I have been in a lot of Sunday School classes that no one would describe as exhilarating. But, doubling teachers feel that way.

I am in about a hundred churches a year. About half of them growing--many of them growing rapidly. The other half are struggling. The dirty little secret is this: the growing churches are having more fun. If you didn't have any more noble, high-sounding goals than just to have fun at church, I would invite you to give yourself to the magnificent obsession of trying to double a class every two years or less.

If you would like to persuade people to embrace the vision of doubling groups, you must persuade them that it is in their best interest to do so. In the long run, people will only do what they believe is in their best interest.

He must believe that he can double. We are only motivated to do what we think we can do. All it takes to double a class every two years or less is to grow from 10 to 14 in a year. Forty percent growth this year and next will get us from 10 to 14 to 20. You can do this.

I often ask groups, "Could you do it if I offered you a million dollars to get it done?" Of course we could.
There must be a careful balance in any attempt to motivate between why and how. Why would we give ourselves to this? A group of ten that doubles ever eighteen months can reach a thousand people for God in ten years. This is an undeniable fact of math. We do it to glorify God. We do it because God said so. We do it to get sinners out of hell and into heaven. We do it because it is fun and a wonderful way to live.

But, we must also show people how. The best way how that I know is through the party driven strategy modeled for us by Levi. The scripture says about Levi that when Levi became a follower of Christ that Levi held a great banquet. We are told in scripture to "offer hospitality without grumbling" and "Get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner." Dr. Barry McCarty, an early adopter to this strategy emailed me this week. Here is a part of his email:

BTW, thanks to you, 10+ years later my wife and I are still giving Friday nights to Jesus, only now it's a Saturday evening "Pizza with the Pastor" because in Texas the population worships FOOTBALL on Friday nights!  We do it once a mo nth, adding every new visitor to the invitation list.  We keep inviting them for six months until a) they come or b) they tell us to go away and leave them alone.  This idea, along with a church membership class--which I also teach--continues to be the two best church growth ideas I've ever put into practice.   I still bless the day you asked me to be one of the critical readers for Double Your Class!

If you would influence people to double their classes, teach them about hospitality. Show them how.

He must have leaders who set an example. If we would motivate people to double their classes, we must set an example for them. You have heard it so often it has become trite: everything rises and falls on leadership. The leader must embody the vision.

I don't know how many pastors I have had tell me they love my ideas, but they just can't get their people to do them. My response: how are you doing?

I have heard Andy Stanley say on several occasions, "We are in a group that is doubling; I want you to be in a group that is doubling." Pastor, you have enormous influence on your people. If you will join Andy Stanley in saying, "I am in a group that is doubling; I want you to be in a group that is doubling."  Minister of Education: same thing. Lead by example.  I have a new coaching and consulting plan I am working on. The first thing I will do on the very first night I am with the church is meet with the staff and their wives. If I can't get this group excited about embracing the vision of doubling groups, we are done. People follow the example of leaders.

For more on the coaching plan, see www.joshhunt.com/coaching.htm

Average Sunday School teachers can double their classes every two years or less. They can reach 1000 people in ten years by doing so. But, they need the example of their leadership.

He must see his peers doubling. People need to see not only the example of their leaders, they must see the example of their peers.

I'd encourage you do some reading on the topic of how ideas spread through a group. Here a a few good reads:

  • The Tipping Point
  • The Diffusion of Innovation
  • PyroMarketing (full MP3 version available for free at www.pyromarketing.com )
  • Unleashing the Ideavirus

The big idea is this: people are strongly influenced by their peers. A few people will listen to experts. A few people will Give Friday Nights to Jesus because Josh Hunt told them to. A few more will do so because your pastor and staff do so. Once people start seeing their fellow teachers giving Friday nights to Jesus, the idea becomes almost irresistible. People do what they see the people around them doing.

What we must do as leaders is, "catch them doing something right." Every time an early adopter takes a step in the right direction we need to get out a big spot light and point it on him. Talk about it in the newsletter. Mention it in the pastor's blog. Talk about it from the pulpit.

Every time you have a group divide and create a new group, make a big deal about it. Births are big deals. Get the whole group on the stage and pray for them. Buy them all a steak dinner. (Trust me, if you bought every group member that doubled a steak dinner, you will never get hurt financially by this plan.)
For more on this, see previous articles:
http://www.joshhunt.com/mail178.htm
http://www.joshhunt.com/mail177.htm
< a href="http://www.joshhunt.com/mail146.htm">http://www.joshhunt.com/mail146.htm

He must be rewarded for doubling and held accountable for not doubling. Whatever gets rewarded gets done. We need to spend more time catching people doing something right and less time telling them what they ought to do and should have done. (For more on that, take a look at Ken Blanchard's classic, One Minute Manager.)

Your church is perfectly designed to get the behavior you are getting. We don't get what we ask for. We don't get what we hope for. We get what we reward.

If you want people to double their groups, reward them for doing so.

If you want people to give Friday nights to Jesus, it is not enough to teach about it. It is not even enough to model it. We must reward it. Whatever gets rewarded gets done.

I have written quite a bit about this in the past. Here are a couple of articles.
http://www.joshhunt.com/mail49.htm
http://www.joshhunt.com/mail50.htm

He must be enabled to double. He must be supported with the resources necessary to double. I asked Paul Byrom of First Baptist Church, Midland, Texas for his key to growing a Sunday School:  "Chalk."

Short reply, and unusual growth strategy. As I unpacked his answer further, he made the point in more detail. He just gets people what they need to be effective. He gets them the resources they need to be able to double. He makes sure the chairs are set up, the rooms don't have a little stacks of old literature, and, yes, every teacher has chalk.

I have known a number of churches that actually pay the bills when teachers do hospitality.  The denomination I worked with in Australia paid people $1000 a year to help cover costs if they would do thirty parties a year. I have known churches that encouraged members to take visitors out to lunch after church on Sunday by offering to reimburse people for the lunch.

I know what you are thinking, "We could never afford to take every visitor out to lunch."  If you think you can't afford it, do the math. In my experience over half of them that you take out to lunch will end up joining the church. Many of them will give. In short, it will pay for itself.

The system must enable people to do what we want them to do.

Remember to sign up for Josh's free e-newsletter. You can sign up by pressing the link to receive that newsletter and future editions! Double your group. Start new groups! Be revolutionary!

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