Over the last twenty-five years, I have encountered classes of all kinds. I have seen big ones with hundreds on roll or in attendance. I have seen small ones with two people. And I have seen lots in between. I have seen classes with great lecturers as teachers, and I have seen classes who read out of the quarterly. I have experienced great discussion about God’s Word, and I have experienced nothing more than a discussion about the most recent deacon’s meeting.
I have seen growing classes, declining classes, and many plateaued classes. Of the growing classes, I have seen classes that constantly were looking for a new room, and I have seen others who were constantly sending out teachers and seed groups to launch new classes. Many of the plateaued or declining classes were oblivious to the fact that they were not growing or reaching out. Others have happily told me that their class was for those already in the class. They did not need to reach out because there were already enough there, or they liked the class the size it was.
Last week, I encountered a teacher’s wife who had questions about how to lead a plateaued class to begin reaching out. I did not have to address one issue that is important: leadership by the teacher–since she and he were interested and seeking help. (If the teacher is not interested in reaching out, then it is unlikely that the class will!)
Here are some of the suggestions I shared with Wanda:
call attention to an OPEN CHAIR and ask attenders for the name of a person they will invite next week;
ask atttenders to PRAY for unchurched friends, relatives, associates and neighbors;
launch a month-long class INVITATION CAMPAIGN: week 1–pray for unchurched persons by name; week 2–write a postcard to the unchurched persons; week 3–call the unchurched person and ask how you can pray for them; week 4–visit the unchurched person in their home (invite them to your home for a meal and to class);
plan monthly FELLOWSHIP experiences (whether socials or outreach/ministry projects) and ask attenders to invite unchurched people;
divide the class into ZONE OFFENSE for the sanctuary so that one person is responsible for every set of pews to be a friend to any unchurched person that looks like they might belong in the class; and
set GOALS for attendance, enrollment, and contact increases and keep progress in front of the class (this motivates attenders to be inviting).
Along with these, I would encourage the teacher to set an example here. The teacher should be inviting people regularly and introducing them to attenders at class fellowships and Sunday morning class sessions.
In addition to these quick suggestions, what others would you offer? How can you help a class that is not inviting to begin inviting? How can momentum at least be started? People are waiting to be invited. Be revolutionary!