Many churches today have attractional worship services. Attenders know that the music and message will be excellent, so they are unafraid to invite friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors. How can you use that fact to grow your Sunday School?
There are many ways. Josh Hunt talks about “zone offense” in his book, You Can Double Your Class in Two Years or Less. Zone offense is giving the members of your class responsibility for sections of the sanctuary. And if any guest sits in my assigned section that looks like they could potentially be the age group of my class, I introduce myself and invite them to my class.
Another natural way is to do your best to register every guest. Then share that registration with the class whose assignment is that age group. Then the outreach leader or care group leaders make contact with the guest or lead class members to do so.
But a third option is to invite people from the pulpit. That can be done at the conclusion of a Sunday School emphasis or Sunday School testimony (check out Sunday School Testimony: Powerful Revolutionary Tool and Grow Sunday School by Sharing Your Sunday School Testimony). It can simply be at the conclusion of the service. Doing so at the end of the service is especially effective when there is a session of Sunday School immediately following the worship service along with a person or persons who will help guests locate classes.
But many respect the example and advice of the pastor. When the pastor speaks positively about Sunday School, members and guests feel positive. When the pastor invites people to Sunday School, some are naturally drawn to do so. This is even more effective when the pastor also talks about his experiences in his own class (whether he teaches or is simply a participant).
Recently, I conducted a Sunday School survey to discover differences between growing and declining Sunday Schools. In the survey, I asked for responses to the following statement (followed by response choices and then a table of response percentages):
From the pulpit, my pastor invites people to Sunday School… (Can’t remember when, Occasionally, Quarterly, Monthly)
Question 24 Growing vs. Declining
- Can’t remember when 13.1% 8.1%
- Occasionally 27.9% 29.9%
- Quarterly 1.6% 1.5%
- Monthly 55.7% 56.9%
What is interesting about the responses is how similar they are in growing and declining Sunday Schools. In fact, growing Sunday Schools appear to be even less likely for the pastor to use the pulpit to invite people to Sunday School. It made me wonder if growing Sunday Schools were more likely to employ other methods in addition to the pulpit to “pull” people out of the sanctuary and into the classroom.
Having an easy-to-find information center which can help guests locate classes is also important, especially when the information center is staff with people who can lead guests to classrooms. Printed information about class choices can be helpful. But nothing compares to personal invitation, especially when I lead the guest I have invited to my classroom.
Use every means to encourage guests to take the next step in their discipleship out of the sanctuary and into your Sunday School. Invite from the pulpit. Share Sunday School testimonies. Invite from the pew. Invite in the community. Pray. Connect. Invite. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!