The saying goes that the definition of insanity is doing the same things but expecting different results. If you want different results in the year ahead, you will need to do different and/or additional things this year. I want to encourage you to spend time with God and with your leadership to determine the different results you desire and how to achieve them.
To spur your thinking, allow me to share five challenges for the upcoming year:
- PRAY FOR GOD’S LEADERSHIP ABOUT INCREASING SUNDAY SCHOOL ENROLLMENT. Have you been faithful with the sheep God has entrusted into your care? In some cases, our Sunday Schools are not growing because we are not doing a good job with what we already have. Pray. Seek God’s face. Confess your failures. Ask for His leadership. Pray the prayer of Jabez for your Sunday School: “Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request” (1 Chronicles 4:10, NIV). Pray for God’s leadership this year about increasing your enrollment!
- SET A GOAL AND TAKE STEPS TOWARD INCREASING ENROLLMENT. Following God’s lead, setting a goal can motivate the pursuit of individuals in your community, in your worship service, and in your relationship networks. Break the goal down by age group: preschool, children, youth, and adult. Break it down by class. Break it down by quarter or by month. A church averaging 30 people in five Sunday School classes, could set an enrollment goal of 20 new people enrolled. That would be 4 persons per class for the year, or 1 person per class per quarter. Broken down like that, the goal is not overwhelming. Enrollment is one of the drivers for increasing attendance. Increase your enrollment this year!
- INVITE WORSHIP ATTENDERS AND NEW CHURCH MEMBERS TO ENROLL IN SUNDAY SCHOOL. Raise your expectations for new church members. If they don’t join Sunday School, they are as much as seven times more likely to drop out of church in five years. Start enrolling them automatically in your Sunday School when they join the church, and share that expectation with all new members. Invite all worship guests to join Sunday School. We all like to be invited. I remember a Sunday School consultation in which a participant said he had been a church member for six months before someone invited him to Sunday School–and he was interested but did not know how things were done. Invite worship attenders and new church members to enroll!
- START NEW SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSES. New classes tend to grow faster and are often more evangelistic. On average a new class will grow to 20 in enrollment and 10 in attendance in 12-18 months. Support your enrollment goals with new class starts. That means you need regularly to be training and/or apprenticing new teachers. You need to be preparing new spaces. You need to budget for the addition of curriculum for the new classes. Pray about how many classes God wants you to start this year. Set a God-sized goal for new class starts!
- START AT LEAST ONE OFF-CAMPUS BIBLE STUDY GROUP. Today, not everyone who needs Bible study will come to the church. It has been said that as many as 40% of people cannot attend church on Sunday morning. They are our doctors, nurses, firemen, policemen, gas station attendants, Walmart workers, waiters and waitresses, etc. that society has come to expect. And as many as 95% of those in apartments do not attend church. Why not take Bible study outside the walls of the church? Take it to your home. Take it to a business. Take it to an apartment. Pray. Invite. Start a new off-campus group!
These are big challenges. Are you willing to pursue them? Pray. Follow God’s leadership. Set God-sized goals. Increase your enrollment and start new groups! Be revolutionary!