By Tony Brooks
“Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.'” (Matthew 9:37 NIV)
I don’t know of any Pastor or Minister of Education who wouldn’t like their church to grow both spiritually and numerically. As a former pastor, I wanted to see the church grow in both ways.
Many pastors and churches have bought into the myth that changes in worship style will be the answer. The truth is: Bible study is still the key to bring about spiritual and numerical growth.
The fact is that a new Bible study class for adults will bring ten new people to Bible study (whether it is in that class or adding new people to children and youth who come with parents.)
As David Francis would say, “When Sunday School is done right—with excellence and with a missionary purpose—it continues to be a proven and effective way of reaching the lost in our communities, involving the saved in service, and mobilizing the local church for ministry.”
Sunday School (people meeting in a small group for structured Bible study more than simply a worship service) works to bring people to Christ and/or helps new members stay involved.
It begins with a recognition that persons called out to a new class are missionaries. They are trying to reach people for Christ and make disciples. So how do we begin a new Bible study class?
Identify target groups for new classes. Look in the pews during worship, persons in the community, special events like VBS or even a place like a community store. Keep in mind Bible study is a mindset and not a Sunday morning only experience.
Look at inactive members, members who cannot attend on Sunday morning and prospects and decide which class to start and when the class should meet. Be in prayer as you consider a remnant group to start the class.
Some of my most successful classes for reaching the lost and encouraging members took place on a Friday night at my house or on Sunday mornings at 9 a.m. at a restaurant!
Begin to communicate a vision and plan as you consider teachers and a couple of members to start the class. Allow persons in the church to know what to be praying about and how they can help. People get excited about reaching people for Christ when they know there is a plan.
Every teacher should have an apprentice who is ready to start a new class. Be praying for persons who can be an apprentice to start a new class or take over an existing class. Enlist at least three persons to begin the new class: a teacher and two care group leaders.
Begin preparing a list of prospects for the class. Set up a list of persons to begin inviting to the class as mentioned earlier. Set a date for the class to begin and an outreach/social event to kick it off a couple of weeks before. There may be an existing class willing to plan the social for you.
Have support to help the class grow. It is true that a class that is already two years old or older in existence will have difficulty in reaching new people. Encourage people in the pews and prospects/unchurched to try the new class.
Existing classes may pick up a few new members along the way, but new classes provide the best venue for new people to bond in a community of faith. The church and staff should have the new class on their prayer list and find ways to encourage the remnant who will start it.
Prepare training opportunities for the remnant/missionaries who are starting the class. Medical professionals, lawyers, teachers and many other workers are expected to take continuing educational classes to grow and learn.
Do we expect anything less from persons who are teaching the Bible…which has eternal implications? I am committed to helping you with ongoing training opportunities.
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if I can assist you in training.