Personal Invitation and Enrollment: Twin Key Metrics in Sunday School Progress, Part 1

Sunday 15th February, 2009

I have written about the importance of Sunday School enrollment many times. Sunday School enrollment simply is a list of those who have agreed to be added to the ministry and fellowship list of classes. Many Sunday School leaders treat enrollment as a list of people who have agreed to attend. In fact, I have never heard anyone invited to "join the class" who are asked if they plan to attend regularly.

Instead, enrollment is a list of those (members) who have "joined the class" and given the class permission to minister to them, pray for them, and fellowship with them. In summary, persons who have joined have given permission for the class to "have" and "do" care for them! The more people a class has on their enrollment (ministry list), the more people the class has the privilege of and responsibility for caring for. When there are needs, the class comes to the aid of new and long-term members.

As a result of this care by class attenders, new and long-term members on the ministry list of the class develop connections with the rest of the class. They realize affinities. They develop friendships. They desire to spend more time together--in homes, at class fellowships and projects, and even in class. As a result of these connections, enrolling new people in class often (but not always) leads to class attendance increases.

Pat Ford, a Church Consultant with LifeWay Christian Resources serving in Texas, has written a blog post entitled How Do I Encourage My Leaders and Members to Enroll People Anywhere Anytime? In the post, reminds us that "When enrollment goes up, attendance goes up; when enrollment goes down, attendance goes down." When we work to increase enrollment, it helps us "focus on our mandate for reaching new people as well as helps us build and express a passion for doing so." I might add that a focus on enrollment also reminds us to care well for those who are already on our ministry list or they will drop out of relationships and attendance!

In Ford's blog post, he addresses the question in his post title, "How do I encourage my leaders and members to enroll people anywhere anytime?" In this two-part series, I want to share his six recommendations--two of them in Part 1 and four of them in Part 2. Ford's recommendations are in all capitals followed by my commentary:

  • BE PURPOSEFUL. As pastor, director, or teacher, it helps when you have a clear understanding of the purpose and potential of Sunday School to help in carrying out the Great Commission. Then you are able to lead boldly which in turns gives others greater confidence in taking steps in that direction as well. This is communicated in many ways. First is a trusting relationship built by spending time together. This includes being an example in word and deed. Second is an investment in planning and training meetings. Help others to understand why and how to enroll and care. Third is rolling up the sleeves and working together. Pray. Evaluate how you are doing in enrolling people. Make adjustments which will lead to greater enrollment and greater care. Be purposeful!
  • BE PEOPLE FOCUSED. God sent Jesus as a personal invitation to an eternal relationship with Him. He loved the world so much that He sent His Son to die for us. We, likewise, must focus on what is important: people. Bigger and bigger numbers are not our focus. People are. Adding more people to our ministry list does not matter unless plans and actions are included to care for them. Pray for unenrolled people by name. Invite them to your home. Invite them to cl ass fellowships. Invite them to join you in ministry projects. Invite them to worship. Invite them to class. Invite them to Jesus. Invite them to enroll. Ask them if you can add them to the ministry and fellowship list of the class. Then when they say "yes," focus on them and their needs. Be people focused!
In Part 2, I will share his other four recommendations: be a personal example, be persistent, be prayerful, and be expectant. How is your Sunday School doing? Are invitations regularly extended? Is enrollment considered an opportunity or a burden? What steps can you take to help change the perception and actions of leaders and members in your Sunday School about invitations and enrollment? Prayerfully pursue people God loves. Invite. Enroll. Care. Be revolutionary!

For other thoughts about invitations and enrollment, check out these blog posts:

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