Just because your class does fellowship well does not mean you will attract new people. On the other hand, when you do something that well, why not share it with others. Use the tool of fellowship events to invite, introduce, and include friends. Allow them to help you connect and give you an opportunity to share the love of Christ.
In Part 2, I shared about the importance of relationships for helping Sunday School to be evangelistic. For Part 3, I want to shift from the general understanding of fellowship as relationships to the specific understanding of fellowship as event. How can Sunday School make fellowship events even more evangelistic? Consider the following ten areas:
- INTENTIONAL. Plan to invite and include lost and unenrolled people in every Sunday School fellowship event and every project. Ask each person who they are inviting/bringing.
- EXPECTATIONS. Communicate expectations that everyone invite guests (friends). You might even require attenders to bring a friend in order for your attenders to attend.
- FRIENDS. Don’t call them prospects. Don’t call them guests. Call them friends. The term just carries an ongoing expectation of a continued relationship.
- MONTHLY. Plan monthly times for your group to get together and invite their FRANs (friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors). These can be fun, social times. Or these can be fellowship times with a purpose, such as an outreach, mission, or ministry project. Make the next opportunity to join a fellowship no more than 4-6 weeks.
- COMMUNICATE. The best plans produce poor results when they are not communicated. Talk about plans. Ask for ideas and input. Send reminders. Use text, email, phone, mail, and face to face opportunities. Include guests in the communication plan.
- HOST. Each person who invites a guest to a fellowship should be responsible for helping the guest to enjoy the fellowship or project as well as getting to know others in the group. It is wrong to invite a guest and then ignore them. Ask questions to get acquainted. Listen. Don’t be afraid of questions, even spiritual ones.
- ANNOUNCE. During fellowship, set aside time in the middle to announce upcoming lessons and class plans. Pray together. Don’t wait until the end when some have already started scattering. This gives you a time to promote, invite, and even share a Sunday School or salvation testimony.
- AFFINITY. When a fellowship time allows, attempt to discover one or more affinities of those you invited. Where possible, connect them with class members who share that affinity. This build relationships and ongoing opportunity for conversation about the group, class sessions, and Jesus.
- DEBRIEF. Toward the end of the fellowship or a couple of days following, take time to talk those you invited. Thank them for attending with you. Ask if they have any questions or feedback. Listen.
- FOLLOW UP. Make sure to invite your lost and unenrolled friends again. Keep in contact. Add them to your invitation list. Put them on a Invite them to your next class project or fellowship, even if you have invited others. Be persistent in inviting because you care.
What would you add to this list? Choose one or two and implement them in your class this week!