In Part 1, I shared that Sunday School enrollment simply is a list of those who have agreed to be added to the ministry and fellowship list of classes. But many Sunday School leaders treat enrollment as a list of people who have agreed to attend. Instead, enrollment is a list of those (members) who have “joined the class” and given the class permission to minister to them, pray for them, and fellowship with them. In summary, persons who have joined have given permission for the class to “have” and “do” care for them!
In Part 1, I added that as a result of this care by class attenders, new and long-term members on the ministry list of the class develop connections with the rest of the class. They realize affinities. They develop friendships. They desire to spend more time together–in homes, at class fellowships and projects, and even in class. As a result of these connections, enrolling new people in class often (but not always) leads to class attendance increases.
Pat Ford, a Church Consultant with LifeWay Christian Resourcesserving in Texas, has written a blog post entitled How Do I Encourage My Leaders and Members to Enroll People Anywhere Anytime? In Part 1 of this two-part series, I shared the first two of Ford’s six recommendations: be purposeful and be people focused. In Part 2, I will share his final four recommendations in all capitals followed by my commentary:
BE A PERSONAL EXAMPLE. As pastor, director, or teacher, model inviting and model enrolling. Set a personal goal to invite someone to Sunday School weekly. Set a goal personally to enroll someone monthly. Your example is motivational! People are watching. Talk about it AND do it! But don’t stop with inviting and enrolling. Make sure you lead the Sunday School to pray and care for the people they enroll. If you lead by word and example, many will follow. They will catch your vision. They will understand the importance of inviting, enrolling, praying, and caring. Be a personal example!
BE PERSISTENT. As leaders, we will grow tired of talking about inviting and enrolling long before they will make it a habit. And if we stop, they will soon forget. Look for creative ways to highlight this important work. Your efforts at creativity will help you avoid burnout and boredom in sharing and will capture the attention of even more people. Ask for testimonies. Recognize classes that are successfully inviting, enrolling, and caring. Ask for testimonies of people who were enrolled. Add it to planning meetings. Put it in the bulletin. Talk about it one-on-one and with groups. Don’t give up! Be persistent!
BE PRAYERFUL. Join God in prayer. He sent His Son as an invitation. Pray private and corporate prayers for unenrolled people. Express your concern for those who are not in a life-changing Sunday School class. Pray for those who are inviting and enrolling. Pray for your own personal involv ement. Pray that God will attract the people. Pray that hearts will be open and receptive. Pray that those who attend will recognize their need f or a Savior. Pray that love will be extended, relationships made, needs met, and lives changed. Pray that invitations will be extended and people enrolled. Be prayerful!
BE EXPECTANT. Expect the best. Share your expectations. Set goals. Encourage your Sunday School toward accomplishing those goals together. But Ford reminds us that “you must ‘inspect’ anything you ‘expect.'” Check on progress. Divide out large goals into smaller, bite-size goals. For instance if your Sunday School enrollment goal is an increase of 40 people, that would only be five per class in a Sunday School with eight classes. And if you start a new class, many of them grow to 20 in enrollment in 12-18 months. That might be half of your goal. Check on how individual classes are going. Encourage them and hold them positively accountable to accomplish their goals. Expect every class to invite, enroll, and care. Inspect and be expectant!
Go back and review Part 1. How is your Sunday School doing? Are invitations regularly extended? Is enrollment considered an opportunity or a burden? What steps can you take to help change the perception and actions of leaders and members in your Sunday School about invitations and enrollment? Prayerfully pursue people God loves. Invite. Enroll. Care. Be revolutionary!