The “open chair” is symbolic of two realities (1) the presence of Jesus and (2) not all of the sheep are already in the sheep pen. I have talked about the open chair in previous blog entries:
- Push and Pull People to Sunday School/Small Groups
- Give Sunday School to Jesus
- Revolutionary Classes Mobilize Attenders
- Creating Sunday School Class Outreach Momentum
- Sunday School Class Growth Is Spelled W-O-R-K, Part 1 and Sunday School Class Growth Is Spelled W-O-R-K, Part 3
- Five Purposes of a Revolutionary Sunday School
- Has Your Sunday School Enrollment Increased Lately?
- The 5 W’s of Balanced Sunday School
- How Can We Get New Members in Sunday School/Small Groups?
- Avoiding Small Group Leadership Mistakes, Part 1
- Practical Tips for Leading Revolutionary Small Groups, Part 2
- Adult Sunday School Teacher Evaluation, Part 2
- Sunday School Supporting Spiritual Disciplines, Part 4.
I want to challenge you to practice the open chair. Allow me briefly to examine each of the two realities:
THE PRESENCE OF JESUS. The open chair is symbolic of the presence of Jesus. At the beginning of class, point to an open chair and remind attenders of His promise: “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:19-20, NIV). When you gather together in His name, Jesus is there. When you agree together (“come together”) on what you want to seek from the Father, you will receive it. When you gather, seek Him together. Seek His presence. Set aside sin. Recognize His Lordship. Recognize that the Bible is His love letter to you–together. He desires good for us. He has sent the Holy Spirit. We need his help in clearly discerning the truth of His Word and applying it to our lives. We need His help in mobilizing to carry out His Great Com mission (Matthew 28:19-20). Use the open chair to remind attenders of His presence.
NOT ALL OF THE SHEEP ARE ALREADY IN THE SHEEP PEN. The open chair is also symbolic of emptiness. It points to the need to fill it with someone. There are still people who are unconnected to Jesus that we need to invite to our homes, to our fellowships, to our classes, to worship, and to Jesus. We were commanded to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Jesus claims other sheep that are not yet in the sheep pen (John 10:16). We are His hands and feet. We are to go to them, love them, and invite them for Him and to Him. Since Sunday School on average is more than 100 times more likely to lead a person to faith in the Lord Jesus than worship alone, we need to bring them to the sheep pen. And we need to start more sheep pens (classes) and release more shepherds (teachers/workers). Surveys have shown that more than 80% of unchurched people are at least somewhat likely to come to church if we invite them. What are we waiting for? Use the open chair to remind them that our work of invitation is not finished.
We live in a visual society. Images have impact. Jesus understood that truth two millenia ago. Let the symbol of the open chair speak. Pray for the presence of Jesus. Pray for the lost. Become burdened with Jesus’s burdens. He came to seek that which was lost. Do the same. Be revolutionary!