In Part 1, I listed these six dramatic impacts of these pandemic months as we rebuild Sunday School: (1) attenders dropped out and care reduced, (2) outreach declined, (3) planning stopped and goals declined, (4) training stopped, (5) teachers quit and are burning out, and (6) classes ended and no new classes started. For more thoughts check out How Will You Rebuild Your Sunday School Post-Pandemic?
In Part 1, I addressed and shared solutions for the impact of attenders who dropped out and care reduced. In Part 2, I will focus on the impact of the decline of outreach.
For years, outreach has been declining in our Sunday Schools and churches. The evidence of this shows up in the low numbers of guests we have in worship and in Sunday School and the decline in baptisms. On those rare occasions when we invite guests, we tend to invite them to worship. This is puzzling since pastors tell me that 50-100% of lost people who get involved in Sunday School accept Jesus as Savior within 12 months.
On top of that, when the pandemic hit we became even more hesitant to invite people. Many reasons were in play. Fear was rampant. There was limited space when we returned to meeting face-to-face due to the required 6 feet of social distancing. And we were unsure of what might happen next because so much was unknown.
Frequently that led to fewer conversations about God and church in our daily journey through life. Again this is puzzling because the pandemic brought fears and mwn uch spiritual searching from dropouts, the lost, and those unconnected to church. Despite a lack of invitations and conversation, more people joined churches for online services during the pandemic than had been participating previously live and online.
Rebuild Sunday School: Outreach Solutions
Some of these outreach actions may have been missing for years, or maybe for your class or Sunday School, only one or two are missing. Every action is important. Lead your group to do the following:
- Pray. Pray individually and as a group consistently for lost people by name. Set a daily alarm. Stick a note in a visible place. Sign up at blesseveryhome.com to pray for five of your neighbors by name daily.
- List. Develop a personal list (1-3 names) and a group list (names ranging from your average attendance to your enrollment) of lost and unenrolled people. These will be friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors.
- Assign. Ask group members to make contact at least every 7-14 days with those one the list. Some may be assigned to individuals for ongoing care. Some may be assigned for a single contact.
- Care. Develop a genuine, caring relationship. Ask for prayer requests and pray together. Meet needs–share them with the class or church if they are greater than you can meet alone.
- Invite. Invite them to group meals, fellowships, and projects. Ask them to join you for ball games, church activities, worship, and class. Invite them to Jesus.
- Fellowship. Fellowships are more social. Projects tend to involve work/helping others. Meals are food. Plan one of these every month. Invite the people on your list to join you.
- Greet. Create a positive first impression by enlisting class greeters to welcome, register, introduce, and follow up with guests who come to class.
- Add. Ask people if you can add them to your prayer, care, and party list (class enrollment). When they say yes, contact them regularly to ask for prayer requests, pray together, invite to fellowships, and to meet needs (just like you do for your other class members).
- Train. Provide simple training for class members in how to witness and share their testimony. Practice on each other. Then encourage them to use the training with the people on your list.
What Would You Add?
When we prayerfully give attention to outreach, lives will be changed–including our own. Gather your group and begin praying now! Allow God to use you.
In Kentucky, The Gospel to Every Home emphasis has come at a great time to help raise the vision of people in our churches to lost and unconnected people in the communities around them. A prayerwalk of your community can serve in a similar way. In addition to the nine solutions above, what would you add? Reach out in care. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!