Over the last month, I have focused on how Sunday School can help the church pursue Jesus' command in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20): "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them...and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." In other words, my posts have been about reaching, teaching, and caring for people in order to make disciples. But for several upcoming posts, I want to shift the focus to numerical increase of the class.
If Sunday School never reaches out to new people, it cannot make disciples of "all nations." Sunday School focused only on those already there cannot carry out Jesus' command. It is natural that Sunday School should mobilize attenders to interact with their circles of influence to share Jesus. And at the same time, Sunday School should also invite people to be a part of the class ministry and class sessions because of the impact of Sunday School.
Andy Anderson (of the Baptist Sunday School Board, now called LifeWay Christian Resources) discovered through research that one out of three lost people who attended Sunday School for twelve months accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord. In fact, toward the end of his life, he was seeing that number get closer to one out of two lost people. (To see some of his research, check out his book, The Growth Spiral.) With that knowledge, why don't we do a better job of encouraging lost people to attend Sunday School with us?
Anyway, there are lots and lots of ways to lead your class to increase numerically. I want to share twenty and then follow up by spending time writing posts about each of them. Consider this list:
- Pray for new people. (Check out Expect Evangelistic Prayer Every Week.)
- Care for and invite church members not enrolled in Sunday School.
- Collect information from and pursue worship guests.
- Care for and invite unenrolled family members of Sunday School members.
- Prayerwalk and target reaching out to a neighborhood.
- Meet discovered needs of prospects.
- Caringly follow up every Sunday School guest. (Check out Expect Personal Follow-Up Of Every Guest.)
- Enlist and train class greeters to help guests have a great first impression (and to follow up on their time in class).
- Feature a different class in the worship service. (Check out Pulpit Sunday School Promotion.)
- Invite prospects to regular class fellowships. (Check out Expect Fellowship Opportunities.)
- Invite prospects to connect over a meal or dessert. (Check out Grow Your Sunday School Class/Small Group by Eating a Meal with Guests.)
- Invite prospects to participate in a class project.
- Ask every class guest for permission to add their names to your class care (prayer-ministry-fellowship) list. (Check out Expect People to Say “Yes” to Enrollment.)
- Invite guests to special class studies (during Sunday School or at other times).
- Start a new class and invite people! (Check out Biblical Images for Starting New Classes/Groups and Your Sunday School Class Can Reach Hundreds in Ten Years.)
- Prepare and lead attenders to share their Sunday School and faith testimony. (Check out Expect Every Member to Share Their Story of Faith, Expect the Class to Lead People to Christ, and Sunday School Testimony: Powerful Revolutionary Tool.)
- Ask prospects how you can pray for them, and then (when possible) pray with them.
- Don't forget to maintain good connections with people already on the class enrollment (care) list. (Check out Connecting with Others in Sunday School Ministry and Expect Every Member to Receive a Contact Every Week.)
I realize this list only scratches the surface. What would you add to the list? What have you seen work for reaching/enrolling new people? Which are you unsure would work in your setting? (I hope you will reserve some judgment until you have read my follow up post.) We cannot disciple people with whom we have not connected, invited, or gotten to attend. Pray. Build relationships. Invite. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!
For more ideas about growing your class, check out these posts:
- Four Tools for Growing Your Sunday School Class, Part 1 and Four Tools for Growing Your Sunday School Class, Part 2
- Maximizing Sunday School Class Health, Part 1
- Sunday School Class Growth Is Spelle d W-O-R-K, Part 1, Sunday School Class Growth Is Spelled W-O-R-K, Part 2, Sunday School Class Growth Is Spelled W-O-R-K, Part 3, Sunday School Class Growth Is Spelled W-O-R-K, Part 4, Sunday School Class Growth Is Spelled W-O-R-K, Part 5, and Sunday School Class Growth Is Spelled W-O-R-K, Part 6
- Key Actions for Sunday School Class Growth, Part 1, Key Actions for Sunday School Class Growth, Part 2, Key Actions for Sunday School Class Growth, Part 3, and Key Actions for Sunday School Class Growth, Part 4
- Building Blocks for a Strong Sunday School Class, Part 2