Posted: 11/5/19 at 10:30am. Post by Tony Brooks.
Note to reader: This blog post is the eighth in a weekly series and contains excerpts from Ken Braddy’s book, Breathing Life into Sunday School.
Assemble the people—men, women and children, and the foreigners residing in your towns—so they can listen and learn to fear the Lord your God and follow carefully all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 31:12 NIV)
It would have been easy to use the Great Commission in Matthew to talk about the need for us to reach new people through open enrollment. The passage even literally means: “As you go, make disciples…” in Matthew 28:19.
The Deuteronomic passage is a special one. Every seven years, debts were to be released. There was a sense of freedom from bondage of debts. All were called to hear from God’s Word about the release and to understand who God is and what God’s expectations from us.
Does that sound opportune to you? It did for me.
In a day when people are wondering about the chaos and challenges in our world and their personal lives, I believe we have GOOD NEWS to share and to show! All of us are called to encourage others to hear God’s Word and make disciples.
How do we help each class member know their responsibility? Practice open enrollment and show them how!
Open enrollment helps your Sunday School grow. Most churches average around 50% of their enrollment on any given Sunday. The premise is simple. You enroll new people and your attendance grows by 50% of the new enrollees. How do we help class members focus on open enrollment in ways that will be successful? (From this point on, I am using ideas not in Ken Braddy’s book, though there are great points.)
- Practice “Constant Contact Consciousness.” I learned this phrase from Neil Jackson years ago at a conference when LifeWay was called the Baptist Sunday School Board! We need to remind class members that they are commanded by Jesus as they go to make disciples. Have each person become aware of people they see every day who may not be in an ongoing small group Bible study. Encourage them to enroll new people. Encourage them to invite people to social events for the class (remember one per quarter as a minimum for every class). At social events, have enrollment cards, and encourage guests to fill it out. Invite people to come to your Bible study group as you go—anytime, anywhere—and be prepared to enroll them as well.
- Be prepared to enroll new people at church events. Whether it is the person in the pew on Sunday mornings (not in a Bible study group), a special worship service, or other church events, have members prepared to invite people to Bible study and have an enrollment card ready for them to fill out as well.
At some of my previous churches, we had special community outreach events like a free pancake supper on “Fat Tuesday.” Feel free to email me about that! We asked teachers and class members to get to know new people by eating with them around the table. We then asked them to show guests where their potential Sunday School class was located. They could ask them to enroll at this event, based on their perception of the person as a “person of peace.” Feel free to ask me about what a “person of peace” means.
- Set new Sunday School attendance goals with this model in mind each year. Keep in mind 50% of enrollment will come on a given Sunday. If you want 20 new people in Sunday School next year, you need 40 new people enrolled.
- Set up care groups to ensure success! I have mentioned care groups before. (Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want an organizational chart and ways for Care Group Leaders to contact members and prospects.) When you enroll new people, that doesn’t mean they will automatically show up. Care Group Leaders function like a Deacon Family Ministry Plan; you have leaders with four to six people to contact and get to know. That includes new enrollment members and prospects. It is essential to enlist people who like to converse by phone, email or in person to do this. They want to get to know and care for people. If you can do all of the following, your Sunday School will grow!
If you are serious about taking this option to the next level with visitors in worship, email me at email@example.com.