For the last twenty-four hours, yesterday’s blog post, Identify and Invite Sunday School Prospects, Part 4, has left me thinking about something I said there:
If we enroll people, “care about” them, and provide “care for” them, many will eventually attend.
This is the opposite of the practice of most classes and Sunday Schools. Most invite unenrolled people. Then if they attend, these classes and Sunday Schools will eventually enroll the “guests.” And then when they join, the class will begin to “have” and “do” care for the new members. As I consider this practice, I understand even more why most Sunday Schools are plateaued or declining!
The practice I suggested in yesterday’s post is so revolutionary, that I expect few who are willing to try it. It is so opposite of history, so opposite of practice, and so opposite of thinking that most will dismiss the idea as hair-brained. And yet, I cannot get it out of my mind. I believe it is rooted in scripture.
In fact, three verses and Jesus’ own example have come to my mind. That spells trouble! Consider this:
- Romans 5:8 (NIV): “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” MY COMMENTARY: God did not wait until we turned to Him before he showed His love for us! We should not wait until they show up in class before we love them for Him.
- John 10:16 (NIV): “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” MY COMMENTARY: Jesus claims sheep not yet in the sheep pen. They are the target of the body of Christ for our ministry for Him.
- Matthew 28:19a (NIV): “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” MY COMMENTARY: Jesus did not say “wait until they come to you, and then make disciples of them.” In the original language, Jesus said, “as you are going, make disciples of them.” So focus on them in the world and as you go.
- Jesus’ example: Luke 19:10 (NIV): “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” MY COMMENTARY: They (we) were His focus. And His focus should be ours!
What do we need to do in order to make unenrolled, unchurched, and lost people the focus of our Sunday School ministry? What steps can we take to focus our prayer and care on them? I want to suggest an answer that is so simple that it will be dismissed: enroll them!I am suggesting much more than adding them to a class prospect list. Enroll them. Follow God’s leadership to pray and care for them. Enroll them. Invite them to your homes, class fellowships, and projects just like you would class members. Enroll them. Call them weekly to share prayer requests,check on prayer needs, and pray with them. Enroll them. Respond to stresses and needs discovered in their lives as if they were faithful attenders. Enroll them. Love them like Jesus loves them.
Enroll. Care. Then invite them to Sunday School. When classes practice these three in this order, attendance will result. It may never be 100%, but it will be a LOT better than the results most classes and Sunday Schools are getting now. If you are a little bit scared to try it, do it this way: just enroll two unenrolled, unchurched, or lost persons. Focus the attention and love of the class on them. Have and do care. Then invite them to your homes, fellowships, and projects. In the meantime, such efforts will change your class for the better, and you may just be surprised at what happens in the lives of the two you enrolled! When they begin to attend, start the process with two more. Be revolutionary!