Where is your Sunday School attendance right now compared to worship attendance? Are you happy with your percentage (divide Sunday School by worship and multiply times 100)? Would you like to increase that percentage? Then, I want to challenge you to start praying, dreaming, brainstorming, planning, and taking steps to move in that direction! If you are at 50%, pray and dream of the day that you will be at 60%. If you are at 75%, pray and dream about being at 85%.
I like what Steve Gladen wrote in an article entitled How to Connect to Every Person in Your Church. He said, “Eventually you want a goal of connecting 110 percent of your congregation in life-changing small group communities.” That really got me thinking. Do we really want to connect all our members and all our worship attenders in a Sunday School class? If we really did, what would we do differently?
In Part 1, I want to share the first four of nine steps you can take toward increasing the number of persons you are connecting. I have added the first three steps to the six steps of Gladen’s article referenced above. How could the following steps help you move toward connecting even more people in Sunday School? Gather your Sunday School leadership team get them involved in these steps:
PRAY ABOUT CONNECTING MORE PEOPLE. Pray for your Sunday School. Bring all your Sunday School teachers and workers together to pray about connecting more people. Pray about people who are currently unconnected. Pray for your teachers and leaders. Pray for God’s leadership, compassion, and insight. Ask Him to give you compassion, passion, and direction. Pour out your concern to Him, but don’t forget to listen. When you ask, seek, and knock, He will give you the desire of your heart.
WRITE DOWN THE VALUES AND BENEFITS OF CONNECTING PEOPLE. Gather your group of Sunday School teachers and workers and write down all of the ways that connecting people in Sunday School is helpful. How does a group benefit participants? What are the values they receive by being connected to a group? Have leaders work individually. Then get them into small groups (2-4 people) sharing what they wrote down. Ask the small group to write a consolidated list. Then have the small groups share their lists which will be joined together into one list. Allow time for additions and clarifications. This activity will increase the value among your leaders and help them in the days ahead as they improve and mobilize their classes.
DREAM/BRAINSTORM ABOUT CONNECTING MORE PEOPLE. This section is focused on HOW to move more people into Sunday School. Dream about it. Brainstorm about it. What can you do to invite? What can you do to make it possible for people to try a group? What can you do to communicate those values and benefits? What can you do to make it personal? What groups need to be started? How can you make people aware of those new opportunities? Again, working in small groups may produce even more ideas that can then later be shared with the whole group. This process creates energy, enthusiasm, and ownership of the pursuit of more people. What steps need to be taken to bring about these connection possibilities? Who needs to be involved? What goals and deadlines need to be set?
REMOVE THE BARRIERS AND FOCUS ON THE BENEFITS. This is the first of the six steps from Gladen’s article. When you are dreaming/brainstorming, you will likely identify some of the potential barriers. Now is the time to address each barrier. What can be done to remove or help people to move around the barriers so they can recognize and realize&n bsp;the values and benefits of connecting in a group? Gladen points out that childcare can be a concern. Help adults to realize the availability of quality childcare, well-trained caring teachers, and great facilities. If there is a weakness here, address that barrier. Communication may be a key. Potential participants may not know the values and benefits of connecting with a group. How can you remove that barrier of “not knowing?” Sunday School testimonies from the pulpit and in publications can help. Allowing new classes (and existing ones) to share at the end of worship about their age group, studies, and activities can help people become interested and take steps to be a part. What other barriers need to be addressed? Identify them and consider ways to help people work through or around them.
In Part 2, we will address five more steps which can be taken to help you connect more people in Sunday School: utilize all communication avenues, extend personal invitations, view transitions as strategic times to connect people, unleash the power of a campaign strategy, host small group connection events, and provide a safe environment for building relationships. Until then, how are you doing with the first four steps? What do you need to do in prayer, values/benefits, dreaming/brainstorming, and removing barriers? Where do you need to start? When will you start? We cannot afford to lose them to growing as disciples and serving in Kingdom work. Begin now to take some prayerful steps toward connecting more people in Sunday School. Be revolutionary!