In my experience, most teachers starting out with a new class desire for the class to grow. They want others to experience great teaching and good relationships. They hope others will be attracted and invited to class sessions and activities.
But life is fast-paced. It is full of distractions and demands. Before long, busyness has a way of filling up all of a teacher’s free time leaving little for class growth activities beyond preparation for another lesson. And therein lies one of the main stumbling blocks to class growth: lack of focus, time, and energy spent on key actions for class growth.
This five-part series is not intended to address how to make Sunday School a priority and in turn lead it to grow. That is the subject for another post. Instead, this series will assume that Sunday School is a priority and will address key actions which can contribute to movement toward class growth.
What are some of the actions necessary for Sunday School class growth? Consider the following:
REACHING OUT. Very few classes grow without efforts to identify, pray for, and invite people not in the class. Are there church members and worship attenders not enrolled in Sunday School? Invite them. Are friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors not connected to a Bible study group? Invite them. Invite worship and special event guests. Identify the name, age group, and contact information. Pray for him/her by name. Extend care to him/her. Discover his/her affinities. Invite him/her to your home, class fellowships and projects, to class, and to Jesus. Thom Rainer discovered in his research that as many as 62% of unchurched people are at least somewhat likely to come to church if they are invited. Challenge class members to make contacts every week and ask them to visit prospects once a month. Grow your class through consistent efforts to reach out.
REACHING IN. Too many churches and Sunday School classes forget to follow up with those who are members of the class. When no one notices that a regular is absent, it is not hard for one week of absence to become two or three. Growing classes not only reach out, they also reach in. They contact members regularly, often through care groups or other intentional inreach efforts. Every member, including regulars and absentees, receive frequent contacts. These contacts include e-mails, texts, cards/letters, calls, and visits. Prayer and prayer requests, fellowship/project plans, and listening to needs are included in the agenda for contacts. No class member should ever drop out without being missed, prayed for, and contacted. And no class member should ever be able to disappear. If the Sunday School class back door is larger than its front door, the class will struggle to grow. Be consistent in your efforts to reach in.
MEETING NEEDS. This action is connected to the previous two. On the way to reach out and reach in, needs will naturally be discovered. A growing class will prepare and organize itself to respond to these needs. This starts with genuine care for people, even those who are not yet members of the class. Care group contacts are one way that needs are discovered about members and prospects. Care group leaders mobilize their groups to pray and respond to small needs. They contact the teacher with bigger ones so the whole class can be involved. And the teacher contacts other classes and church staff with even bigger ones. Meeting needs during times of stress and crisis often creates connections that are long-lasting. Members stick and prospects become more open to invitations. Organize your class to meet needs.
Think about your class. Which of these three is best done by your class? Which of these three needs st rengthening? What can you do this week to take steps toward improvement in the area needing strengthening? Who can help you with that key action? In Part 2,we will look at three more key actions: leading, keeping good records, and following up. Reach out. Reach in. Meet needs. Grow. Be revolutionary!