In my experience, one reason many Sunday Schools are declining is that they have not identified or invited Sunday School prospects. Many go to Sunday School to have their needs met, forgetting many others who need those same experiences. In John 10:16 (NIV), Jesus said, "I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd." We are the hands and feet Jesus uses to "bring them" in. If we don't identify prospects, they won't be invited or loved to Jesus.
Sunday School prospects are men, women, boys, and girls not enrolled in Sunday School for whom we have a name and contact information. A prospect is not a man whose name we do not know who lives five or six doors from the church and mows his grass on Sunday morning. He is a "suspect." At that point we merely suspect that he might be a prospect, but until we know whether he is enrolled in Sunday School somewhere, have a name, and contact information, he is not a prospect.
Who then are prospects? One category of "ripe fruit" prospects is Sunday School guests. Other than out-of-town guests, they have already been invited or are seeking a Sunday School to join. Another category that may be "ripe fruit" is worship guests. Another category forgotten by most churches is guests to other ministries within the church: Wednesday children and youth activities, missions groups, choirs, women's Bible studies, and more. A similar category which is not "mined" enough in most churches are guests from special events, like Vacation Bible School, revivals, fall festivals, and other church and group events.
One category of prospects that should be "listed" and pursued are church members who are not enrolled in Sunday School. Another group are family members of church and Sunday School members: children, parents, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Another group are friends and neighbors of church and Sunday School members. And another group of prospects are associates with whom we work, go to school, play, are in organizations, and regularly encounter. And a final group of prospects are people with whom we have a life-encounter. They cross our path, and we have enough conversation to invite them and/or discover if they are enrolled in Sunday School anywhere.
One way to discover prospects is to ask Sunday School classes or attenders in worship to complete a "Who Do" card answering the question, "Who do you know that is ________?" Place one of these cards in every attenders' hand as they enter. At the appropriate moment in Sunday School or worship, ask them to take the card and write down contact information for one or two of the categories listed above. It could even be an age group: newborns, preschoolers, children, youth, young adults, middle adults, senior adults. It could be other categories of prospects like single adults, single parents, retired adults, young professionals, etc.
Having defined prospects and listed one method for discovering prospects in Part 1, in Part 2, I will share additional discovery suggestions.In Part 3, I will share methods for setting up a good record system to keep up with prospects and record contacts. Then in Part 4, I will share some ideas for inviting and enrolling prospects. Look through the prospect definitions listed above. Identify prospects for your Sunday School. How can you get more information on those categories of people? Pray. Start asking questions. Start seeking prospects. Starting inviting. Be revolutionary.
For more ideas about prospects, check out these blog posts:
- Do You Need Sunday School Prospects, Part 1
- Do You Need Sunday School Prospects, Part 2
- Focusing on Prospects for Sunday School
- Christmas Invitation to Sunday School
- Prospecting for Sunday School Prospect Gold
- Care Groups: Prayer, Ministry, Assimilation, and Invitation
- 5 Goals for Sunday School Growth This Year, Part 2
- Grow Your Sunday School by Following Up Vacation Bible School
- Sunday School Class Growth Is Spelled W-O-R-K, Part 5
- Grow Your Sunday School: Part 2, Steps for Inviting New People
- Use Your Sunday School Records to Reach and Care for More People, Part 1