This sounds like an obvious question, doesn’t it? But the issue is multi-dimensional. There are several ways to get new members in Sunday School/small groups:
set goals for enrollment, contacts/invitations, and attendance;
launch new groups;
promote in worship the value of Sunday School/small groups;
form new groups out of new church members (or new member class); and
challenge members and guests to try out groups for six weeks.
I read a web article entitled New Members into Small Groups. In the article, Steve Gladen mentions two ways to get members into groups: push and pull. Gladen says, “The ‘push’ side is helping to place people into small groups. We can have them sign-up for a group that is listed in a book, at a small group table, or off the internet.”
Gladen adds, “Another effective way to ‘push’ is through centralized gatherings called connections…. People interested in joining a small group are invited to attend a meeting with others who are not connected to a group but want to be…sit at a table based on a geographic, age, or other affinity..guided discussion around the table with icebreaker, leadership, and pastoral questions…propose that the people at each table form a group for six weeks.” Push is a church strategy for launching new groups.
About pull, Gladen says, “‘Pull’ is where we encourage small groups to work toward filling their own vacancies (called the ‘open chair’) by asking and recruiting people to visit the group.” Pull is setting goals. Pull is inviting friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors. Pull is group ownership of the responsibility to reach and care for people.
Both push and pull have a place in getting new members in Sunday School/small groups. Evaluate your church strategy for getting new members into groups. Could the addition of push or pull to your strategy energize your efforts to reach new people? What needs to be first step your Sunday School/small groups ministry takes to do so?
Pray. Push. Pull. Take a step toward loving people into your groups and loving people to Jesus through your groups. Be revolutionary!