To be in a growth position, Sunday School classes need prospects equal at least to your Sunday School attendance. Ideally, prospects would equal your enrollment. These are persons for whom you have names, contact information, ages, and as much church background/involvement information as possible. They should be within the ministry reach of your church.
Prospects should be assigned to a class. And each class should have someone who is responsible for praying for, ministering to, and pursuing these prospects. An effective records system must be in place which makes available the information about prospects to the church office, classes, and those who need to make contact. In order to encourage ministry and follow up with prospects, the pastor, Sunday School director, or age group leader should ask for regular reports about the status of all assigned prospects. Results of caring contacts should be recorded.
Without intentional efforts to discover prospects, Sunday School enrollment and attendance will tend to plateau or decline. And more than numbers, there are people who need Jesus and others who need to learn how to live like Him. So do you have plenty of prospects? Do some of your classes have enough while others have none? What are some sources of prospects?
Sunday School Prospect Sources
When Richard Dodge served at LifeWay Christian Resources, he wrote an article entitled Twelve Prospect Discovery Ideas (no longer available). In Part 1, I will share the first six of his twelve ideas in all capitals followed by my commentary:
- INSIDE CHURCH CENSUS. Check to see who are the members of your church who are not enrolled in Sunday School. Add them as prospects for your classes. Another step is to see which family members (spouses, children, parents, etc.) of Sunday School members are not members of Sunday School. Start new classes to reach some of these. And assign them to a class to make caring contact.
- FRIEND REFERRAL CARD. Place cards in your pew racks or insert in your bulletins which ask for names of friends, relatives, associates, or neighbors who are not in a Sunday School class. Ask for this information about a different category of people at least once each quarter. Assign them to Sunday School classes to make caring contact.
- WORSHIP SERVICE GUESTS. Make sure that every guest who completes a registration card in worship (in the church’s ministry reach) is added to the prospect list and contacted by a Sunday School class.
- NEWSPAPER WEDDING OR ENGAGEMENT ANNOUNCEMENTS. Enlist those who enjoy reading the paper to scour the announcement section of the paper to locate these names. Discover as much contact information as possible. Add them to your prospect list. Make caring contact.
- TELEPHONE SURVEY. Keep the survey simple. Genuinely seek their input. Offer relevant services. If they are interested, send them information about the church and add the individuals to the prospect list of the appropriate age group class. Focus on a small section of your community. You might need to secure a phone directory based upon addresses (reverse directory) to accomplish this idea.
- APARTMENT/CONDO SURVEY. The previous idea has information. Check with the manager of the apartments or condos to ask for permission to conduct the survey. This can be especially effective if you are seeking information in order to start a Bible study group or a ministry there on the premises.
In Part 2, I will share six more of Dodge’s ideas. Don’t try to do them all at once. Focus on one or two. Continue to seek prospects until you have exceeded the minimum of prospects equal to your Sunday School attendance. For classes to grow, you need prospects. They need Jesus. We need each other. Be revolutionary!