In Part 1, I shared that many Sunday Schools are declining because they have not identified or invited Sunday School prospects. I defined prospects as "men, women, boys, and girls not enrolled in Sunday School for whom we have a name and contact information." Then I listed several helpful categories of prospects. At the end of Part 1 and then in Part 2, I shared ways to discover prospects. In Part 3, I shared methods for setting up prospect record systems. In Part 4, I will share ideas for inviting and enrolling prospects.
INVITE. Dr. Thom Rainer of LifeWay Christian Resources discovered in his research that as many as 82% of people are at least "somewhat likely" to attend if invited. Don't decide for someone. Ask them. Let them decide for themselves! Statistics over the years have shown that more than 80% of guests were personally invited. Set goals for invitations in order to challenge class members to pay attention to people they should invite. But don't make people your project. Instead, invite them because you love the Lord, your church, and them!
Josh Hunt encourages invitations to worship attenders by Sunday School class members. He recommends a class dividing responsibility to cover all of the sections of the sanctuary. If a guest (or even unenrolled church member) is in my assigned section, my job is to introduce myself, express interest, and invite. Josh calls this "zone offense." Set out an "open chair" at the end of class and ask class members prayerfully to identify and pursue someone this week to fill the chair.
Invite friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors to your home or a restaurant for a meal or coffee and dessert. Invite them to a class fellowship or project. Invite them to worship or a special church event. Invite them to class. Make home and office visits. Call them. Write handwritten cards and letters. Send e-mail and texts. Invite them in every way possible out of genuine interest and concern. Be persistent in your caring contacts without pestering. David Francis of LifeWay says it may take an average of as many as 20 contacts to get one person to attend today.
ENROLL. People like to be asked to enroll. They won't always say yes the first time, but they like being invited. Don't say no for them. Ask. Ask the first time, and don't give up if the answer is no. They don't even have to be attending class when you ask. Ask if he/she would like to be added to the class prayer, ministry, and fellowship list--isn't that what enrollment is (or can be)? Challenge classes to set goals for enrolling new members in order to expand the list of people they will "love on."
Another way to enroll new people is to start a new class. New classes grow faster on average than existing classes. They tend to invite more and to be more evangelistic. And they tend to ask people to join. So if you want your Sunday School to grow, start more new classes which will invite and enroll more new people!
If we enroll people, "care about" them, and provide "care for" them, many will eventually attend. So enroll them in Sunday School first! The reality is that people who are enrolled are more likely to attend.
How are you encouraging Sunday School members to invite? What is your process for enrolling new members? Review the prospect definitions in Part 1, the discovery methods in Part 2, and prospect records system suggestions in Part 3. What steps do you need to take to identify, discover, record, and reach prospects? Pray. Start asking questions. Start seeking prospects. Starting inviting and enrolling. Care for them. Be revolutionary!
For more ideas about enrolling new people, check out these blog posts:
- Has Your Sunday School Enrollment Increased Lately?
- Grow by Increasing Your Sunday School Enrollment
- Sunday School Enrollment: Attendance List or Ministry List?
- Starting a New Sunday School Year with Momentum
- Personal Invitation and Enrollment: Twin Key Metrics in Sunday School Progress, Part 1 and Personal Invitation and Enrollment: Twin Key Metrics in Sunday School Progress, Part 2
- Using Sunday School Enrollment to Grow, Part 1 and Using Sunday School Enrollment to Grow, Part 2
- Use Your Sunday School Records to Reach and Care for More People, Part 1 and Use Your Sunday School Records to Reach and Care for More People, Part 2