Do you have people on your Sunday School roll who have not attended in months or years? Have you lost contact? Do you have some who are not known by any member of your class? What should you do now?
The ideal scenario would be never to lose contact with a person on our rolls. Weekly contact, prayer, and ministry should be offered. Invitations should be extended regularly to homes and class fellowships and projects. Relationships should be pursued with new and long-time members. As a result, no one can ever drop out of our classes without us knowing why and where they are.
But in many of our Sunday Schools, we have not done a good job of maintaining connection with class members. When we have lost contact and connection, what can we do? When we no longer know how to find those who no longer attend, what can we do?
I want to recommend reading an article by a friend, Steve Parr who is Vice President for Evangelism & Sunday School for the Georgia Baptist Convention. The article is entitled Is It Time to ‘Purge’ Your Roll? In the article, Parr lists four points to consider before purging your roll. I want to share three of those four points which are listed in all capitals followed by my commentary:
- EVERYONE ON THE SUNDAY SCHOOL ROLL (OR SMALL GROUP ROSTER) IS A PERSON THAT THE CLASS OR GROUP HAS MADE A COMMITMENT TO MINISTER TO. This point places the issue into proper perspective. The class roll is not an attendance list. It is a ministry list. They agreed to join the class. And you agreed to care for them and to do care for them. The issue may be one of the lack of persons who have been enlisted to assist the teacher in caring for the class members. I like Parr’s question and response: “If my daughter attended your church, and later dropped out, at what point would I want you to stop ministering to her? The answer is never.” When you drop someone from a class roll, you stop praying for, contacting, and ministering to the individual. Invite him/her to class member homes and to class fellowships. Love him/her back into attendance if you can, but love him/her even if he/she doesn’t.
- IT IS APPROPRIATE TO ‘AUDIT’ YOUR SUNDAY SCHOOL ROLLS AND THIS CAN BE DONE WITHOUT ‘PURGING’ THEM. Ideally, contact is made with every person (not just attenders) every week. The teacher or care group leader weekly contacts assigned class members to pray, invite to a fellowship, and meet needs. So you are ‘auditing’ your records every week according to the fresh information you have discovered. If you find out that a class member has joined another church, you will want to remove the person from your roll. When there is a death of a class member, you will want to remove him/her from your roll. When the person’s job transfers him out of the ministry reach of the church, you will want to remove him/her. Parr closes this point by saying: “Don’t penalize a member of the [class/group] by removing them and completely ceasing ministry because of a classes’ failure to keep their commitment to maintain contact and ministry.”
- YOU CANNOT INCREASE THE ATTENDANCE WHILE DECREASING THE ENROLLMENT. When your enrollment decreases, so will your attendance. When your ministry efforts decrease, so will your attendance. Want your attendance to increase? Then enroll more people and care for them. Pray for them. Minister to them in times of stress and need. Care about them. Care for them. It’s just that simple. Parr stated, “You will not average 100% attendance and that is not the aim of your Sunday School enrollment. The aim is to regularly minister to 100% of those enrolled.”
So, is it time to clean up your Sunday School roll? Or is it time to redesign your caring syst em. Is it time to pray for God t o give you passion for those already on your rolls? Is it time to take action to make sure that not a single other person drops out in the future without the class mobilizing to care? For additional information, check out David Francis’ article entitled When Do We Drop Someone from the Roll? Clean up the roll as you need to do so, but remember to care for those on your roll. Work to increase your ministry list and care, and watch your attendance increase. Be revolutionary!